Philip Morris sues UK Government – sue them right back!

Not my area, but I take this personally. My children’s favourite aunt had lung cancer.

TOBACCO giant Philip Morris is to launch the biggest corporate compensation case in history against the UK and Scottish Governments over the decision to impose plain packaging on cigarettes.

Legal papers are expected to be presented today or early next week seeking between £9 billion and £11bn. Other tobacco companies are expected to follow suit.


Stage 4 lung cancer; image via

Their argument is that the planned imposition of plain packaging, by preventing them from using their very valuable brand image, is a “deprivation of property”,  and what is human life, after all, compared with property?

A similar case has already failed in Australia, but not before holding up plain packaging for a year, during which more young people became addicted to cigarettes. And that judgment can’t be used to shortcircuit the case, because the wording of Australian property law is different from that of both English and Scottish law. It will have to be argued all over again, and more teenagers will get addicted in the meantime, so that the decision to sue makes good financial sense for Philip Morris, even though they are going to lose.

Here’s my answer. Get the best medical advice on the number of excess deaths caused in the United Kingdom by smoking, multiply that by the rule-of-thumb number used by agencies such as NICE to represent how much it’s worth the Government spending to save a human life, add the cost of the NHS of treating smoking-related diseases, and sue the bastards right back.

And why stop there? The tobacco companies are knowingly indulging in behaviour that causes death. Isn’t that homicide? And then we have extradition treaties to summon them before our courts to answer such a charge? What are we waiting for?

About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on May 22, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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