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South Korea court rejects lawsuit against tobacco companies

[JURIST] A Seoul court ruled Thursday that cancer patients suing South Korean tobacco firm Korea Tobacco and Ginseng Co. (KTG) [company backgrounder] do not have enough evidence to link their diseases to negligence on the part of the companies. The court conceded the link between smoking and the plaintiffs' illnesses, but said that there was insufficient evidence to show that their diseases were explicitly caused by smoking the defendant's cigarettes. In addition, the court said that there was no evidence to support assertions that the companies provided inadequate warnings about their products.

South Korea [JURIST news archive] has an extremely high smoking population, at 12 million out of 47 million people, according to a 2005 report [text] by Euromonitor International [official website]. Widespread anti-smoking campaigns [BBC report] have been largely ineffective. The suit dismissed Thursday was the first brought by cancer patients against tobacco companies in South Korea and was a consolidation of two separate lawsuits filed in 1999 against KTG, which was then a government-run company. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have said they will appeal the decision. Asia Pacific News has more. The Korea Herald has local coverage.

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