Allan Lykke Jensen began smoking at age 10 and said the tobacco companies should be held responsible for his health problems. Photo: Johnny Anthon Wichmann/Scanpix
The Danish Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that tobacco companies cannot be held responsible for a smoker's health.
Funen resident Allan Lykke Jensen was the first person in Danish history to sue the tobacco industry for health problems he acquired through his many years of smoking. But on Thursday, the Supreme Court denied his 53,000 kroner (about $9,000) compensation request, putting an end to a long legal battle.
“Tobacco companies are not responsible for permanent damage that comes from long-term cigarette smoking,” the court wrote in its ruling according to Ritzau.
The case first got underway 14 years ago when Jensen sued the tobacco companies House of Prince, now owned by the British American Tobacco, and Skandinavisk Tobakskompagni, which is today known as Skandinavisk Holding. He claimed that the Prince cigarettes that he began smoking when he was just 10 years old contained more nicotine and tar than what the company claimed on its cigarette packs. Jensen also claimed that the dangers of smoking were kept hidden from the public for much of his life.
The court, however, did not buy his argument.
“At the point at which [Jensen, ed] began smoking, it was widely known that the long-term use of cigarettes was associated with the risk of serious health problems, just as it was known that it can be very hard to quit smoking,” the court wrote.
Jensen, however, argued that his early start meant he was not in a position to make an educated decision about smoking.
“If you start smoking at the age of 10, you don’t understand whether it is smart to start smoking or not. Most smokers would surely agree with me that it is very hard to stop smoking once you start,” Jensen told TV2 News.
Jensen smoked for just under 50 years, during which time he smoked an estimated 680,000 cigarettes. The 67-year-old says that he suffers from heart problems, impotency and poor blood circulation as a result.
But the Supreme Court, just as the Eastern High Court did in 2011, ruled that the tobacco companies cannot be held liable for a smoker’s health problems. The court therefore denied Jensen’s compensation claim, putting an end to the case.
Jensen no longer smokes.