Higgins to sue cigarette industry
AFTER more than 30 years of smoking, Alex "Hurricane" Higgins, the former world snooker champion, announced yesterday that he was suing the tobacco industry for giving him cancer.
Higgins, 50, who recently underwent throat surgery to remove a cancerous growth, said he had instructed a solicitor to sue the makers of the Benson and Hedges and Embassy brands of cigarettes. He broke down at one point in a Dublin press conference during which he described himself as "a living example of the damages of smoking". He accuses the industry of withholding evidence that cigarettes were addictive and caused cancer.
Makers gave free cigarettes to players in their sponsored tournaments and, Higgins alleges, encouraged them to smoke while being interviewed on television. The twice world champion, who lives in a council house in Belfast, began smoking in his teens. He said that, at the time, he did not know the health dangers. In a hoarse voice, he urged today's youngsters to "get away from the weed", adding: "It's easy to stop smoking. I swear to God, it's just like that - easy." He said he hoped he had beaten the cancer.
He is now to join in a case at the High Court in Dublin being taken on behalf of up to 200 Irish people by a solicitor, Peter McDonnell. Higgins is to appear tonight in a BBC television documentary, Tobacco Wars.