Top Menu

CA Smokers Can Sue Cigarette Makers for Health Problems Despite Earlier Illnesses


The California Supreme Court has decided that smokers can sue cigarette manufacturers if they develop lung cancer or another smoking-related illness, even if they had a different tobacco-related disease before. The vote was unanimous, The Los Angeles Times reports.

The newspaper says the court’s decision is likely to result in new suits and to keep older suits active that might otherwise have been dismissed.

The case involved a former smoker who was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 1989. Several years later, she was diagnosed with periodontal disease. Both conditions were caused by smoking. But it was not until she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2003 that she sued the tobacco industry. Under California law people have two years to sue after discovering an injury, the newspaper reports.

The tobacco industry said the woman’s suit should be dismissed because the timetable for suing started in 1989, when she first found out that smoking was damaging her health. However the court ruled that having a prior illness does not start the legal deadline for filing suit if the injury was “separate and distinct” from the later illness, the newspaper reports.

Tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris USA issued a statement saying the decision would be relevant “only in a very small fraction of cases filed,” according to the article.

3 Responses to this article

  1. Timothy Vinyard / June 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Jesse please take responsibility of your own life and don’t blame a conglomerate. You alone made the choice to take the first puff off your cancer stick. The tobacco industry is a business that supplies people with what they want, they just so happen to have one of the few legal drugs. Trying to sue them for making a profit off of your choice is absolutely childish.

  2. Jesse J Henry Jr / May 6, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Is this like a class action procedure?

  3. Avatar of Jesse J Henry Jr
    Jesse J Henry Jr / May 6, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I wish to sue the tabacco company as I had to have part of my lung removed in 2004 as a result of getting cancer from cigarettes. What do I do? Thanks

Leave a Reply

Please read our comment policy and guidelines before you submit a comment. Your email address will not be published. Thank you for visiting

+ 6 = seven

Reproduction in whole or in part of this publication is strictly prohibited without prior consent. Photographic rights remain the property of Join Together and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. For reproduction inquiries, please e-mail