Tobacco lawsuits are not the best way to achieve tobacco control aims.
Litigation is costly, inefficient, and often wasteful:
Smokers in the US have filed thousands of cases against tobacco companies in the past fifty years or so. They have won in trial in a handful of cases.
In cases filed outside the US against Philip Morris International and other tobacco companies, plaintiffs have also had little success.
What’s more, litigation is unnecessary:
The best way to achieve tobacco control aims is not litigation but regulation. That’s why we believe that developing strong and effective regulation for the tobacco industry makes more sense - for all parties - than expensive, time-consuming, and often ineffective court action.
See below for more information about smoking and health related litigation.
Most tobacco lawsuits outside the US have been individual cases. In such cases smokers sue one or more cigarette companies for illnesses that they claim were caused by smoking. Courts in many different countries have dismissed most of those cases.
We’ve successfully defended individual cases in countries as diverse as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Poland, Spain, and Turkey. Other cigarette companies have had similar results.
In a handful of cases first level courts found against cigarette companies, but those decisions were reversed in all instances where higher courts ruled on the cases later on. Brazil is the only country where an adverse decision against a subsidiary of Philip Morris International has not yet been reversed by a higher court.
In class, or consolidated, actions, groups of people with injuries allegedly caused by one or more cigarette companies try to combine their claims into a single case. In some countries consumer organizations file these types of cases on behalf of their members.
Currently there are class actions pending in three countries: Brazil, ,Canada, and Israel. Previous attempts to bring such claims in Brazil, Canada, Nigeria, Spain, and the United Kingdom have failed.
The only adverse decision against a subsidiary of Philip Morris International, in a consumer class action in Brazil, was later reversed on appeal and sent back to the trial court for further proceedings.
Health care cost recovery cases
In health care cost recovery cases governments, insurance companies or health care providers seek to recover the costs of providing medical care to people who they claim have become sick because they smoked.
Such suits have been brought in Canada, France, Israel, Nigeria, Spain, and the Marshall Islands. They've been dismissed in France, Israel, Nigeria, Spain, and the Marshall Islands.