One of ASH’s programs seeks to hold tobacco corporations and executives criminally responsible for the deaths and disease caused by their products. To that end, we work with organizations around the world who are trying to convince a prosecutor to open a criminal case in their home country.
Our partners in the Netherlands including Sick of Smoking and the Dutch Cancer Society have been working on a criminal complaint. The Dutch Prosecution Service declined to prosecute. ASH and our Dutch partners disagreed with this decision – you can read this article for an explanation of why. The advocates in the Netherlands appealed the prosecutor’s decision to the court, asking them to require the prosecutor to press charges. As you may have seen in our video, the court recently came back with their decision – they will not require the prosecutor to open a criminal case.
Our partners at the Dutch Cancer society issued a statement that discusses the court’s verdict. In it, the court acknowledges that the tobacco industry knowingly makes a harmful and addictive product for financial gain. This statement is a victory.
In many ways, this campaign has been a success. Sick of Smoking garnered incredible support in the Netherlands, in fact, 61% of the Dutch population approved of the criminal action. It highlighted the importance of eliminating smoking and we believe helps pave the way for another of ASH’s programs, phasing out the sale of tobacco products. We are convinced that the efforts of our Dutch colleagues, which have been indefatigable in seeking a criminal case, will be equally tireless in working towards a smoke-free generation.
As I said in the video, this result is disappointing, but not surprising. Most people do not view cigarettes as an issue for the criminal court, but ASH and our colleagues will continue to work to change their minds. We are fully convinced that criminal charges will be brought against the tobacco industry.