Danish tobacco groups face lawsuits

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OPENHAGEN--Scandinavian Tobacco Co., Denmark's leading producer of cigarettes, is facing lawsuits totaling $20 billion from ex-smokers in Denmark.

The first of 103 lawsuits is due to come before Danish courts in October. Additional law suits are pending, via the company's Norwegian subsidiary Tiedemanns.

"We are fighting these cases to win. It is common knowledge that smoking is unhealthy, and any risk was accepted by the two smokers in question when they took up their habit," says Scandinavian Tobacco spokesman Claus Bagger.

Under prevailing Norwegian and Danish jurisprudence, it is difficult if not impossible for groups to bring class actions against tobacco companies.

In Norway, several district health authorities have also threatened to instigate legal proceedings against Tiedemanns, on the grounds that they have had to bear the health care costs associated with treating smokers suffering from tobacco-related diseases.

Copyright July 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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