New lawsuit against big tobacco wins backing of Dutch doctors association

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No image availableNL Times

A Dutch association of doctors NTvG is financially supporting a criminal case filed by some 1,300 smokers and ex smokers against the tobacco industry, the Volkskrant reports. The association, which has about 250 doctors as members, will invest hundreds of thousands of euros of its own money into the case.

According to Willem Mali, professor of radiology and UMC Utrecht, doctors are already actively working to discourage smoking and make people aware of the consequences. "But that's all optional. Doctors need to be more like activists", he said to the newspaper. A possible lawsuit offers doctors more opportunities, according to the NTvG. In the Netherlands some 20 thousand people die annually from the effects of smoking.

Last year some 1,300 sick smokers and former smokers filed a criminal case against for tobacco manufacturers. According to the complainants, the industry actively and deliberately makes cigarettes addictive and is therefore consciously harming their customers' health. The Public Prosecutor will soon decide whether this will go to prosecution. If it does, it would be the frist criminal case against the tobacco industry in Europe, according to the newspaper.

"The main concern is to keep young people off tobacco." Mali said. "Free choice? That argument is no longer tenable. It is an addiction."

The Association of Tobacco Manufacturers told the Volksrkant that they operate according to Dutch law.