The Tobacco Industry’s Abuse of Scientific Evidence and Activities to Recruit Scientists During Tobacco Litigation (2014)

Author: Sungkyu Lee                                   

South Korea’s state health insurer, the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS), is in the process of a compensation suit against tobacco industry. The tobacco companies have habitually endeavored to ensure favorable outcomes in litigation by misusing scientific evidence or recruiting scientists to support its interests. This study analyzed strategies that tobacco companies have used during the NHIS litigation, which has been receiving world-wide attention. To understand the litigation strategies of tobacco companies, the present study reviewed the existing literature and carried out content analysis of petitions, preparatory documents, and supporting evidence submitted to the court by the NHIS and the tobacco companies during the suit. Tobacco companies misrepresented the World Health Organization (WHO) report’s argument and misused scientific evidence, and removed the word “deadly” from the title of the citation. Tobacco companies submitted the research results of scientists who had worked as a consultant for the tobacco industry as evidence. Such litigation strategies employed by the tobacco companies internationally were applied similarly in Korean lawsuits. Results of tobacco litigation have a huge influence on tobacco control policies. For desirable outcomes of the suits, healthcare professionals need to pay a great deal of attention to the enormous volume of written opinions and supporting evidence that tobacco companies submit. They also need to face the fact that the companies engage in recruitment of scientists. Healthcare professionals should refuse to partner with tobacco industry, as recommended by Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Read more: Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health