Brazil Co. made To Pay Cancer Bills
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - Brazil's largest cigarette manufacturer must pay the medical bills of a terminally ill cancer patient who said he contracted the disease by smoking the company's cigarettes for 27 years, a judge said Tuesday.
Pending the outcome of a $2.5 million lawsuit filed by 42-year-old Joao Lopes Lamenha Lins, the Souza Cruz tobacco company must front $27,500 to cover the cost of treating Lins' lung cancer, Judge Henrique Gomes de Barros Teixeira said.
Teixeira issued the ruling last week in Maceio, a city 1,200 miles northeast of Sao Paulo. The company can appeal his decision, he said.
Souza Cruz, which is owned by British conglomerate BAT Industries, said it would not comment until it had been officially notified of the ruling.
``Lins presented sufficient evidence linking his cancer to the habit of smoking, which he was persuaded to do by misleading advertisements showing smokers as healthy, virile and successful individuals,'' the judge said.
In May, the government sent Congress a bill to ban cigarette ads from television, radio, newspapers, magazines and billboards. Tobacco companies also would be prohibited from sponsoring many events, including an annual jazz festival and the Formula One and CART auto races.
Brazil, an important tobacco grower that for years ignored the anti-tobacco movement abroad, has recently stepped up efforts to curb smoking, banning it in public buildings and on domestic and international flights.
Some states have filed suits in U.S. courts against American tobacco companies to recover money spent in treating smoking-related diseases. Rio de Janeiro and Goias states are seeking at least $5 billion each.