Australians in class action against tobacco firms
Australians suffering diseases such as lung cancer and emphysema on Monday launched a class action against tobacco companies Philip Morris Cos Inc, Rothmans Holdings Ltd and W.D. & H.O. Wills Holdings Ltd .
Law firm Slater & Gordon said in the Federal Court in Sydney that it launched the action on behalf of Australians who between April 16, 1996, and April 16, 1999, contracted a smoking-induced disease such as lung cancer.
Compensation claim specialists Slater & Gordon argued that the tobacco companies misled smokers in the 1960s and 1970s by promoting cigarette smoking as a cool, sophisticated activity and by not revealing the health dangers associated with smoking.
The initial statement of claim against the tobacco companies is on behalf of six Australians, but Gordon said "there are probably some 60,000 people around Australia covered within the ambit of the class action.''
The tobacco companies said the case was not appropriate for a class action, because of individual issues relating to each smoker such as medical history.
In the statement of claim, six Australians with lung cancer claimed damages for pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of expectation of life.
They accused tobacco companies of denying evidence existed linking cigarette smoking to any health risk; of placing cigarette vending machines in places to make cigarettes more readily available to young people; of remaining silent about or concealing knowledge about health risks.