The Dutch Cancer Society (DCS) has welcomed the legal challenge mounted by lawyer Bénédicte Ficq on behalf of Anne Marie van Veen, Lia Breed and the Youth Smoking Prevention Foundation. This week the DCS also filed a declaration against the four largest tobacco manufacturers in the Netherlands. The case lists grevious bodily harm (resulting in death) and falsification of documents.
“The Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) is horrified by the facts brought to light by the legal study carried out by Ficq,” the society writes on its website. “And especially the finding that smokers have for years been systematically and deliberately misled by the tobacco industry. That is why the DCS is also filing a declaration and lending its support to the ongoing case.”
DCS refers to the way tobacco manufacturers have deceived test institutes and smokers with so-called ‘cheater cigarettes’. Tobacco manufacturers make tiny holes in cigarette filters so that lower levels of harmful substances are registered in smoke in test environments. As a result, the values measured remain below the maximum permissable levels. Smokers, however, consume higher levels because they block the holes with their fingers and mouth.
“Thirty percent of all cancer deaths are caused by smoking,” says DCS director Michel Rudolphie. “People consume much higher levels of harmful substances than we knew. That’s why we deem it appropriate to take legal action. You cannot treat people’s health in this way.” This is the first time that DCS has taken direct legal action in its fight against cancer.
“This is a tremendous support for us,’’ says lawyer Bénédicte Ficq in the AD newspaper.
The case against the tobacco industry was submitted in late September to the public prosecutor’s office, which has to determine whether to take the case to court. Sick of Smoking was set up to generate as much support as possible, and allows people who are literally or figuratively sick of smoking to join the battle.
In the meantime, the tobacco industry is playing the holy innocent and has stated through branch organization VSK that it has “complete confidence that the sale of a legal product is not a crime in the Netherlands”. Director Jan Hein Sträter comments further in the AD newspaper: “It would appear that this legal challenge only serves publicity purposes.’’