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Quit disappointed by tobacco appeal finding

Friday 6 December, 2002

Quit Victoria has expressed its disappointment at the upholding of an appeal by British American Tobacco against a damages award to dying smoker Rolah McCabe in April this year.

Quit Executive Director Todd Harper said while it was disappointing that British American Tobacco's appeal had been successful, the detail of the appeal findings were encouraging for the possibility for further cases against tobacco companies.

'It’s also important to note that this finding hasn’t disputed that British American Tobacco destroyed documents including those covering smoking and health, marketing, and the addictiveness of cigarettes.'

'There can be little doubt that these documents must have had crucial implications for public health.'

'Their 'document retention’ policy must be questioned - it’s inconceivable that a company like this can be allowed to shred documents that can shed light on their role in Australia’s Number One public health problem.'

Mr Harper said since Justice Eames’ original decision in March, former president of British American Tobacco US, David Schechter, had admitted under oath that the purpose of the company’s document retention policy was to ensure that documents would not fall into the hands of plaintiffs, the public or newspapers.

Mr Harper said it was a sad coincidence that the decision has been handed down on the same day that new information has been released that shows lung cancer is the third leading cause of death in Australia.

'New figures released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare today show that every day around 19 Australians die from lung cancer. Sadly the toll of smoking doesn’t stop there - when you add in deaths from other smoking related illnesses, smoking claims the lives of over 50 Australians each day.'

'We extend out sympathies to Mrs McCabe’s four children - this finding must be a great disappointment to them following the sad loss of both their mother and father this year.'

Zoe Furman
Media Communications Manager, Quit

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