Business Insider brings together 12 powerful charts on the death toll and other harms from tobacco. Some say tobacco will kill 1 billion people in the 21st century. It’s a shame most governments fail to focus on the actual, biggest global terrorists.
Big tobacco is continuing its effort to undo Engle through appeals to SCOTUS. Last fall, big tobacco launched yet another attack. Now, LAW360 reports that 10 new cert petitions were filed this week. The article starts out:
Big tobacco continues to expand its global spreading of death and cancer, this time with Phillip Morris and Japan Tobacco making major new investments in Russian tobacco sales. A cynic might think big tobacco does not fear increases in lung cancer litigation in Russia. Besides, even if lung cancer litigation does surge in Russia in 30 years, the profits already will be long gone. And, the potential asbestos defendants there (such as Uralbest) probably will follow the US model of doing very little to force the lung cancer loss onto big tobacco.
A new Mother Jones article by Myron Levin provides a cogent summary of the Kent filter story, with links to some interesting old ads run by big tobacco and some other source documents. Claiming against Lorillard seems to be increasing; according to the article:
"While there’s no official count, records and interviews suggest that mesothelioma claims since the 1980s number in the low hundreds at least. Lorillard’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that it settled 90 cases during a recent period of just over two years, and that another 60 are still pending. Lorillard officials did not reply to emails and calls for this story, and H&V declined interview requests—company lawyer Andrew McElaney did, however, point out that the companies have won most of the cases that went to trial."
Although researchers generally are not interested in litigation, their insights continue to have implications for toxic tort litigation. For example, a recent paper in Oncogene reports on Mayo researchers identifying a mutation biomarker related to one form of lung cancer in smokers. Mayo’s press release is here. The abstract for the paper states the following regarding the observed mutation:
"ASCL1 is an important regulatory transcription factor in pulmonary neuroendocrine (NE) cell development, but its value as a biomarker of NE differentiation in lung adenocarcinoma (AD) and as a potential prognostic biomarker remains unclear. We examined ASCL1 expression in lung cancer samples of varied histologic subtype, clinical outcome and smoking status and compared with expression of traditional NE markers. ASCL1 mRNA expression was found almost exclusively in smokers with AD, in contrast to non-smokers and other lung cancer subtypes. ASCL1 protein expression by immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis correlated best with synaptophysin compared with chromogranin and CD56/NCAM. Analysis of a compendium of 367 microarray-based gene expression profiles in stage I lung adenocarcinomas identified significantly higher expression levels of the RET oncogene in ASCL1-positive tumors (ASCL1+) compared with ASCL1− tumors (q-value <10−9). High levels of RET expression in ASCL1+ but not in ASCL1- tumors was associated with significantly shorter overall survival (OS) in stage 1 (P=0.007) and in all AD (P=0.037). RET protein expression by IHC had an association with OS in the context of ASCL1 expression. In silico gene set analysis and in vitro experiments by ASCL1 shRNA in AD cells with high endogenous expression of ASCL1 and RET implicated ASCL1 as a potential upstream regulator of the RET oncogene. Also, silencing ASCL1 in AD cells markedly reduced cell growth and motility. These results suggest that ASCL1 and RET expression defines a clinically relevant subgroup of ~10% of AD characterized by NE differentiation …" (emphasis added)
Toxic tort litigation continues to evolve. The American Cancer Society is supporting deceptive marketing class actions against big tobacco. The story – and an amicus brief – are online here.
Another Florida verdict against big tobacco, with a $ 22 million award of punitive damages. The claims involved a woman who started smoking in her teens and died at 38. The plaintiff’s evidence is said to have focused on big tobacco targeting teens. Here is an article with several links to other articles with additional specifics.
Imagine – a smoke free country in Europe. That’s the 2025 goal of the Health Minister in Ireland, although the goal actually is not completely smoke-free and instead is to have smoking down under 5%. Plainly, governments and others are actively realizing that they cannot afford to continue to subsidize the absurdly high financial and human costs of an industry that sells death and disease. The online story includes the following key quotes:
It’s always good to see big tobacco lose a trial verdict or an appeal. The latest loss is described here – in a California appellate court.
A new post on Eye on the Trials provides a concise summary of the tobacco companies losing a series of defense motions launched at the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case, including a motion to dismiss for lack of evidence. One hopes big tobacco continues to lose on all issues. It’s well past time to end the massive economic and human harms caused by smoking.
In my view, virtually all employers (including my law firm) subsidize big tobacco in several ways. For example, employers pay health insurance premiums and worker’s compensation payments that are increased because of illness and disease in persons whose immune systems are compromised by their employees who smoke (or did smoke). We likewise collectively eat part of the cost (through income taxes) for free or subsidized low cost medical care provided to smokers via Medicare, Medicaid and charity care payments. Certainly asbestos defendants are providing major subsidies to tobacco companies as they pay for cancers and non-malignant diseases mainly or exclusively caused by smoking.