In rejecting today the final legal appeals for a group of ailing smokers seeking compensation from the South Korean government and KT&G, the country’s top court said there was no causal connection between smoking and lung cancer, according to a Yonhap News Agency report.
Upholding a lower court’s ruling and ending a 15-year legal battle, the Supreme Court threw out two damages suits brought by 30 lung cancer patients and their families against the government and the former tobacco monopoly.
“Lung cancer is not a disease solely caused by smoking but a disease that is caused by a host of exterior reasons such as physical, biological and chemical factors,” the court said in its ruling.
“It is difficult to acknowledge a causal relation between smoking and lung cancer just based on the fact that certain smokers developed the disease,” the court said. “Environmental factors should be taken into account.”
Seeking WON474.7 million (US$454,700) in compensation, 36 people initially launched the suit in 1999, arguing that long-term smoking had caused lung cancer and that the company had not fulfilled its duty of informing them of the dangers of smoking.
The plaintiffs claimed also that the company defrauded the public by falsely denying the adverse health effects of smoking, concealing evidence that nicotine was addictive and lying about their manipulation of nicotine in cigarettes to create addiction.
KT&G rebutted the causal relationship between smoking and the plaintiffs’ diseases, citing a lack of scientific evidence.
And the company argued that it did not violate its obligation because it had included a warning message on its cigarette packs.
Category: Breaking News