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TobaccoScience, policy and public health$
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Peter Boyle, Nigel Gray, Jack Henningfield, John Seffrin, and Witold Zatonski

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199566655

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199566655.001.0001

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Roles of tobacco litigation in societal change

Roles of tobacco litigation in societal change

(p.613) Chapter 35 Roles of tobacco litigation in societal change

Richard A. Daynard

Oxford University Press

Litigation plays at least six different roles in tobacco control. First, the most common and least dramatic role is ordinary enforcement of tobacco-control laws. Second, too frequently governments enforce tobacco-control laws sporadically or not at all, creating the opportunity for NGOs either to bring law enforcement actions directly or to sue their governments to force them to do their job, depending on whether courts will permit NGOs to take such actions. Third, tobacco companies increasingly use litigation to thwart effective tobacco control legislation and programmes, typically arguing that constitutional provisions or other controlling law pre-empts such measures. Fourth, lawsuits and administrative proceedings have been brought by smoke-sensitive individuals against employers and places of public accommodation, seeking protection from second-hand smoke or compensation for illnesses caused or exacerbated by exposure to second-hand smoke. Fifth, many lawsuits have been brought by individuals, groups or classes of individuals, and third-party health care payers against the tobacco companies, seeking compensation for tobacco-caused illness, death, and/or out-of-pocket economic costs. Sixth, governments occasionally attempt to enforce general laws (e.g., against racketeering) against tobacco companies, alleging that deceptive and illegal practices by the industry have harmed the general public. Unlike ordinary law enforcement, these cases seek court orders requiring fundamental changes in the way these companies do business. Each of these roles has implications for social change. This chapter discusses each of these in turn, with the most attention devoted to the cases against the tobacco industry. It also looks at the role that legislation can play in encouraging or discouraging tobacco litigation. It concludes with a brief discussion of how tobacco control would have been different in the past in the absence of litigation, and how litigation may affect the course and success of tobacco control in the future.

Keywords:   cigarette smoking, tobacco use, law enforcement, lawsuits, second-hand smoke, tobacco industry, tobacco control

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