Tobacco lawsuits up in smoke in Finland

Tobacco companies in Finland have come out on top in a 22-year-long legal battle with smokers who claimed their health had been damaged by the habit. According to Helsingin Sanomat, professor Erkki Aurejarvi, Emeritus of Civil Law, who launched numerous lawsuits against tobacco companies on behalf of his clients, has finally given up the fight.

After negotiating a settlement with two companies, Aurejarvai’s clients apparently withdrew applications for a hearing at the country’s Supreme Court. The professor now says he will drop the cases while the tobacco companies have agreed not to demand court costs from the plaintiffs.

“I started my first legal process in 1988, and I have not been paid a cent in legal fees for this. I have done my part”, Aurejarvi said.

The decision not to fight on in the Supreme Court means the ruling handed down by the Helsinki Court of Appeals in June will still stand. The lawsuit brought by two women, aged 54 and 67, in which they sought EUR 200,000 from tobacco companies for illnesses they attributed to smoking, was rejected by the court.

Aurejarvi has refused to go into details of the exact agreement with the two tobacco companies but it is strongly believed that it involved the wavering of the court costs, which amount to more than EUR 800,000 between the two women.

The four original women in Aurejarvi’s latest case started smoking between the ages of 10 and 12 and suffered various respiratory diseases in later life. The prosecution’s case was focused on the marketing of tobacco to children and information given on light cigarettes and nicotine addiction.

One of the original clients dropped her case while another died during the legal process. The Court of Appeals ruled that the remaining two women had been aware of the risks of smoking and that the tobacco companies had done nothing legally wrong when marketing and manufacturing their products.