Widow takes tobacco firm to court

From http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/3169614.stm

Widow takes tobacco firm to court

The first case for damages brought against the tobacco industry in the UK is to begin in Edinburgh.
After a 10-year legal battle, the widow of a lung cancer victim is finally getting to put her case against one of the world's largest tobacco companies.

Alf McTear took action against Imperial Tobacco in 1993, arguing that he had not been warned about the dangers of smoking.

He died, aged 48, from lung cancer a week after giving evidence.

His widow Margaret will tell the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Tuesday how her husband was never warned about the dangers of smoking when he took the habit up in 1964.

A number of high-profile cases have recently gone through courts in the United States, with major tobacco companies ordered to pay multi-million dollar damages.

But this is the first case of a similar nature in the UK.

Mrs McTear's lawyer, Cameron Fyfe, said: "Any manufacturer who manufactures a product for a consumer should warn that consumer if there are dangers attached to it.

"We are saying that Imperial Tobacco knew about the dangers attached to smoking in the 1960s but did not warn their consumers, did not warn Alf McTear.

"Had he known, he would not have started."

Speaking to BBC Scotland in 1993, Alf McTear said: "I've only got a short time left and my family will be carrying on where I left off.

I am very glad the case will go to court. I always said I was determined to see it through to the end for Alf 's sake

Margaret McTear
"At least they will have my testimony when the time comes, my words will be there in black and white... I'll have my say."

Mrs McTear, from Beith, Ayrshire, said: "I am very glad the case will go to court. I always said I was determined to see it through to the end for Alf 's sake."

But one factor going against Mrs McTear is that she has been refused legal aid several times and may struggle to pay costs.

Mr Fyfe said his firm has worked on the case since 1993 on a "no win, no fee basis".

Imperial Tobacco has described its defence as "robust."

The firm is expected to stress that there has been a long-standing awareness of the dangers of smoking.

It is also expected to say that Mr McTear chose to smoke after the warnings were introduced and that smokers can quit.

But if Imperial Tobacco loses the case, it could open the door to hundreds of similar actions.

Ian Gibson, of Macmillan Cancer Relief for Scotland, claimed that Imperial Tobacco's response was evidence of the tobacco industry's lies.

He said: "For years the tobacco industry tried to deny that their product was causing thousands of deaths around the world every day.

"Whilst organisations such as Macmillian try to bring down our lung cancer rates by educating people about the causes and symptoms, Imperial Tobacco's cynical denial of the clearly proved link between smoking and lung cancer has shown yet again that the tobacco industry put profits before lives."

Doesn't everyone have a free choice on whether to smoke or not? :roll:

It's widely known that it's a health risk and there are agencies in place to help beat the addiction, blaming the tobacco companies is ridiculous.
This case is a ridiculous waste of time and money.

My father died from lung cancer 6 months ago, he smoked for 40 years.

He was aware of the dangers of smoking and I am sure the gentleman in the article was also aware.


I agree-no sympathy. I indulge in pasttimes which I know to be dangerous, such as rock climbing and the consumption of alcohol (though not at the same time). I actually gave up smoking 15 years ago because it was just too risky. If you claim that you are unaware of the smoking risks then you are lying-simple. No doubt she will win-commonsense not being evident much these days where lawyers are concerned
Yep, I agree with all gone so far.

If we are going to moan about nanny state and all that sort of thing then the (american) idea of suing just for the sake of compensation should be considered just as bad.

It doesn't matter what he was told by his government/ doctor/ tobbacconist. The simple fact that he was coughing his lungs up after every fag should have told him something.

No sympathy whatsoever. Free will, free choice, accept the consequences. All there is to it.
I too smoked for many years and remember when there was talk of putting unpleasant pictures of damaged lungs on the packets. I simply resolved to buy a silver cigarette case and decant my cancer sticks into a rather more aesthetically pleasing recepticle. The point being that the only thing that can make a smoker quit is when he or she decides to. No amount of warnings will have the same effect.

The fact is that there cannot be an adult in the land that does not know that smoking is bad for them. It's sad that people die of smoking-related diseases but we all have a choice.

Incidentally, I notice that the electric socket does not have a notice warning me not to stick my fingers into it. Anyone know a good lawyer?

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