Tobacco industry can't be prosecuted for attempted murder, court rules

Cigarettes (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Kiwiev)Cigarettes (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Kiwiev)

The tobacco industry can not be prosecuted, because tobacco manufacturers are not doing anything illegal, the court in The Hague ruled in an article 12 procedure filed by lawyer Benedicte Ficq. The lawyer wanted to - on behalf of cancer patients, various organizations and even a few municipalities - prosecute the tobacco industry for attempted murder, manslaughter, assault and forgery. No appeal or cassation is possible against this ruling, NOS reports.

Ficq filed an Article 12 procedure to try and force prosecution after the Public Prosecutor also determined that the tobacco industry can't be prosecuted because it is not breaking the law. Like the Public Prosecutor, the court in The Hague concluded that cigarette manufacturers are not violating any existing laws and it is up to politicians to change the rules if necessary. "In short, the complainants are in the wrong place with their complaint", the court said. 

According to the claimants, cigarettes are deliberately designed so that people are quickly addicted and find it hard to stop smoking. One of Ficq's main complaints was that cigarettes are more harmful in practice than tests show, because there are small holes in the filter that smokers can close with their hands. As a result, smokers inhale more harmful substances than the tests show. The court said that the use of these 'ventilation holes' has long been known to the government and the European Commission, and that this has so far not been considered a reason to change or tighten the rules.

In a reaction, Ficq said to NOS that the court was firmly on her side. According to her, the court agrees that smoking is very addictive and that producers use harmful means to make profit. "We see that in the major drug cases we do. The court puts cigarette manufacturers in the same line as drug producers and importers", Ficq said. According to the lawyer, with this verdict the court said:  we would like to, but can not. The lawyer will now focus on getting politicians in The Hague and Europe to change the rules.

Tobacco producer Philip Morris said in a reaction that the ruling is confirmation of the fact that the company sells a "strictly regulated product", the risks of which have been known for decades, according to the broadcaster. The company added that the best choice for your health is to never start smoking or to stop, but it is a fact that many people continue to smoke. Philip Morris said its ambition is to replace cigarettes with smokeless products like e-cigarettes as quickly as possible.