BAT wint rechtszaak
Een vrouw die tabaksfabrikant British American Tobacco (BAT) voor het gerecht had gesleept wegens de dood van haar man heeft de zaak verloren. De rechtbank oordeelde dat BAT niet de schuld kan krijgen van de longkanker van haar man, een roker.
De anti-rokersorganisaties willen echter van geen wijken weten en dreigen met meer zaken tegen de industrie.
Widow Margaret McTear has lost her long-standing battle with Imperial Tobacco over the death of her husband.
Heavy smoker Alfred McTear died from lung cancer and Mrs McTear, from Ayrshire, held the company responsible.
However, a judge said Imperial Tobacco could not be blamed for his death, in a ruling welcomed by the company and pro-smoking campaigners.
While disappointed, anti-smoking groups said the company’s position remained indefensible and called for more curbs.
Er zijn een aantal interessante overwegingen in de uitspraak: er is geen verband aangetoond tussen het roken en de longkanker en er is niet aangetoond dat de man heeft geprobeerd te stoppen.
“One of the fundamental issues in this case is whether cigarette smoking can cause lung cancer. This is an issue which I am duty-bound to approach with an open mind and to decide on the basis of the evidence led before me. As with all other disputed issues of fact, the burden of proof is on the party who seeks to establish this, in this instance on the pursuer.”
As will be seen, this is of particular importance in the field of epidemiology, since it is generally agreed that where an association is found, such as that between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, it is ultimately a question of judgment whether the evidence is sufficient to establish a causal relationship.“
“I am prepared to accept that Mr McTear found it difficult to wean himself off his habit once he had started smoking and in that sense could be described as addicted. I do not accept that he was for this reason unable to stop smoking (paras.[4.229] and [6.202] to [6.208]). The averment that tobacco is more addictive than cocaine is not proved.”
“In any event, the pursuer has failed to prove individual causation. Epidemiology cannot be used to establish causation in any individual case, and the use of statistics applicable to the general population to determine the likelihood of causation in an individual is fallacious. Given that there are possible causes of lung cancer other than cigarette smoking, and given that lung cancer can occur in a non-smoker, it is not possible to determine in any individual case whether but for an individual’s cigarette smoking he probably would not have contracted lung cancer”
BBC bericht (Met commentaren)
In een artikel in The Scotsman geeft de rechter aan dat het gebruik van anti-tabaks gerelateerde deskundigen de zaak geen goed heeft gedaan:
In comments buried deep in Lord Nimmo Smith’s 514-page judgment, he stressed that expert witnesses had to be independent and that evidence given in McTear’s case had been unsound.
He said: “All the expert witnesses for the pursuer [McTear] were or had been connected in some way with ASH [the anti-smoking group] and were clearly committed to the anti-smoking cause; and no doubt for this reason were prepared to give evidence gratis. By contrast, all the expert witnesses for Imperial Tobacco charged fees for their services.”
Lord Nimmo Smith, who ruled against McTear after a 12-year legal fight, was particularly scathing about the evidence of Professor James Friend, whose past connections with ASH included being acting chairman and an executive committee member of the anti-smoking group. Although he did not mention it in court, Prof Friend’s CV also disclosed that he contributed to ASH financially in a “modest” way.
Lord Nimmo Smith said: “This coloured his views and the evidence which he gave to the court.”
The judge said Prof Friend had been giving evidence to further a health cause. “He did not meet the criteria that would qualify him as an independent expert witness on which the court could rely to give a balanced view on the issues in this case.”