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Appeal on tobacco class action

Friday 31 March, 2000

Quit has welcomed today's announcement by law firm Slater and Gordon that they will be seeking leave to appeal to the High Court against the Federal Court's decision dismissing a class action against tobacco companies on behalf of sick smokers.

Quit Executive Director Todd Harper says the news of the appeal comes as tobacco firms find themselves under increasing legal pressure, with New Zealand joining with all Australian states and Territories to investigate the possibility of combined legal action, and a massive pay out this week in the US to a smoker dying of lung cancer.

'The message is clear that tobacco companies' tactics will no longer be tolerated, and they will have to face the allegations of their misconduct in court.'

'A US jury's finding this week that Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds acted with malice, knew about the health hazards of smoking, and deliberately mislead the public about the dangers of smoking is also significant.'

'Tobacco companies are facing mounting legal pressure to account for their conduct.'

'There is no bigger public health issue in Australia ­ smoking results in the deaths of 50 Australians every day, yet even in the face of insurmountable scientific evidence, tobacco companies have denied the lethal consequences of smoking.'

'We're particularly concerned about the rate that young people are taking up smoking ­ 8 out of 10 new smokers are children, and children as young as 12 are taking up the habit.'

'This disturbing trend can only be tackled if we stop the tobacco industry's deliberate targeting of young people through their point of sale activity and product placement.'

'They've fought to prevent consumers knowing the truth about the harm smoking causes. They've fought against health warnings on cigarette packets.

'Tobacco companies have known about the dangers of their products for decades, and there can be no question that their conduct deserves to be scrutinised in court.'

ends

Further information:

Zoe Furman
Media Communications Manager
Quit Victoria

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