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Tobacco Claims Against Cigarette Manufacturers for Negligence

Posted on 16th March, 2021

by Legal Staff

Today, cases against tobacco companies are not as common as they were in the 1990s and early 2000s. However, people are still dying from lung and throat cancer and suffering from other smoking-related illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In fact, claims are still being filed by product liability attorneys across the nation. Claimants, usually smokers with lung cancer, esophageal cancer, laryngeal cancer, pharyngeal cancer, or COPD, typically alleged causes of action based on:

  • negligent manufacturing: tobacco companies are liable for making and marketing products that were unfit to use, but also they failed to act with reasonable care in manufacturing cigarettes;
  • negligent advertising: the tobacco companies failed to warn users of the potentially lethal effects of cigarettes and their addictive nature;
  • violation of state consumer protection statutes through unfair and deceptive business practices.

Tobacco manufacturers responded in full force, relying on several defense strategies:

  • cigarettes, as manufactured and delivered, were safe for consumption.
  • smokers' cancer was caused by other factors such as aging or genetics.
  • smokers assumed the risk of cancer when they decided to keep the smoking habit.

People Injured by Tobacco Smoking Asserted Claims for Negligent Manufacturing and Deceptive Commercial Strategies

Evidence of a consumer's addiction to tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars, bidis, and kreteks, may be relevant to proving the danger posed by such products in a manufacturer's duty to warn users. Toxins found in cigarettes include:

  • tar
  • formaldehyde
  • cyanide
  • acetone
  • benzene
  • arsenic
  • naphthalene

Another harmful substance in cigarettes and tobacco is nicotine an ingredient that can lead to addiction, which is why so many people who smoke find it difficult to quit. Most people spend years tied to cigarettes regularly because nicotine leads to dependence. Usually, if you smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day, or have the first cigarette within 30 minutes of waking up, you have a nicotine addiction.

In tobacco claims, the delay and the lack of a direct connection mean that variations in each smoker's history of smoking can be important. For example, prior to 1966, there were no health warnings on cigarette packs. The first warnings that were introduced appeared on cigarette packages in 1966 and were most recently updated in 1984.

Tobacco advertisers often used the doctor's authority to promote cigarettes. L&M Filters are Just the Doctor Ordered, 20,679 Physicians say Luckies are less irritating, More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette, just to name a few. Along with doctors, nurses also had the potential to reassure consumers worried about the health effects of smoking tobacco.

The none-too-subtle message was that if doctors and nurses, with all of their expertise and dedication to helping patients, recommended a particular brand of cigarettes, then it must be safe. Some cigarette companies stated health benefits in their ads. For example, Marshall's Cubeb cigarettes claim to be a "sure remedy" for asthma, nasal congestion, along with the buildup of mucus known as catarrh, and the common cold.

Proving Causation Is Difficult in Tobacco Claims, Which Is Why Legal Consulting Is Highly Recommended

In tobacco claims, the direct connection is usually less clear and there are two main reasons for this:

  • Starting and continuing smoking, as well as smoking relapse, is a free choice. While most smokers begin smoking in childhood or adolescence and most find it hard kicking the habit because of addiction, not everyone in the community takes up smoking and not all smokers are unable to quit. This suggests that the link between the wrongdoing and the illness caused by smoking is less direct than in many other types of claims.
  • Smokers usually smoke over a considerable period of time. Usually, there is a period between smoking and developing a smoking-related illness. The long-standing effects associated with cigarette smoking mean that the illness itself may be argued to have been caused by a range of other factors.

However, today, claimants have a better chance of prevailing in a product liability suit against a tobacco company than they did a decade ago. More and more evidence demonstrates that the tobacco companies knew of the risks associated with tobacco use but failed to adequately warn consumers of the dangers of using the product or, even worse, denied their existence.

If You Decide to File a Personal Injury Claim with the Tobacco Company Responsible for Your Disease, We Are Here to Help

Not only are these companies liable for making and marketing products that were unfit to use, but also they failed to act with reasonable care in the manufacturing of the products and to adequately warn consumers about the cancer-causing nature of cigarettes. Our team of experts has the resources to actively pursue tobacco companies for compensation on behalf of our clients.

If you began smoking before 1964 as a minor and now struggle with lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or throat cancer, as a consequence of smoking, contact Atraxia Law today to see if you qualify for compensation.