JERUSALEM (Sep. 15)
Add one to the list of American phenomena that have reached Israel’s shores: class-action lawsuits against tobacco companies.
Smokers and relatives of deceased smokers filed a $4.25 million suit Sunday against Israel’s only cigarette company.
The suit, brought in the Tel Aviv District Court, argued that the Dubek tobacco company misled consumers by failing to point out the hazards of smoking in its advertisements, while suggesting that cigarettes enhanced masculinity.
The suit is the first such action in the Jewish state.
Dubek markets more than 90 percent of the domestic cigarettes smoked by Israelis. It also imports Phillip Morris cigarettes from the United States, including the Marlboro brand, which is highly popular here.
A Dubek spokesman said the company would respond after studying the claims contained in the suit.
According to the Health Ministry, 5,500 Israelis die each year from smoking- related illnesses.
The ministry is planning to launch an $8 billion damage suit against Israeli and foreign tobacco companies. It plans to use the suit’s proceeds to cover the costs of treating sick smokers.
In the United States earlier this year, tobacco companies and state attorneys worked out $368 billion proposal to settle dozens of tobacco-related lawsuits. Clinton administration officials are currently studying the proposal.