Not long ago attorney Bénedicte Ficq of the office Meijering Van Kleef Ficq & Van der Werf Advocaten was contacted by a new client, Anne Marie van Veen (42 years old, mother of four), with a request to look into the possibility of making a case against the tobacco industry.
Anne Marie van Veen has smoked since early childhood and has only recently stopped after being diagnosed with lung cancer. She wishes to prevent hers and other children from also falling prey to the tobacco industry. After seeing the documentary 'De Vervangers' ('The Replacements'), which clearly demonstrates how the tobacco industry sees young children as replacements for smokers who die young, she was resolute: They're not getting their hands on my children.
Infliction of grievous bodily harm
Thursday evening, during the television show RTL Late Night, attorney Bénédicte Ficq LL.M announced that the case being made focuses on proving the infliction of grievous bodily harm, an attempt to inflict such harm, or the intentional endangerment of people's health. In the near future, the charges will be finalised and submitted to the Public Prosecution Service with a request to prosecute. Because the tobacco industry makes and markets cigarettes that are designed to make the consumer addicted as quickly as possible, and then, further, to cause harm to the then-addicted smoker's health, it is our contention that the tobacco industry is possibly guilty of a criminal offence.
Ficq believes that the fact that the addicted smoker chooses to smoke cigarettes does not justify the acts of the tobacco industry. The addicted smoker's freedom of choice has been influenced by the addition of addictive substances (nicotine and additives) to cigarettes, with the intention of limiting that freedom of choice. This is unacceptable on all accounts, but perhaps even more so when it is children and young adults that are targeted.
The attorney also believes that the fact the government has not banned the production and sale of cigarettes does not justify the acts of the tobacco industry. Purposefully and premeditatedly causing grievous bodily harm or endangering a person's health is illegal according to the Penal Code. The fact that the government hasn't made the production and sale of cigarettes illegal is, in our opinion, not relevant grounds to not consider this a criminal act.
Sick of smoking movement
Besides this lawsuit, Anne Marie van Veen wants to start a movement to collectively protest against the practices of the tobacco industry. The website www.sickofsmoking.nl is available to anyone who is literally or figuratively sick of, or from, smoking. On tonight's broadcast of RTL Late Night, Anne Marie submits an emotional plea: Join me in this fight and make it our fight. Take action!