Smoking and health litigation

Claims against the tobacco industry

Here we explain the most common types of smoking and health claims faced by the Group and provide a link to the latest edition of our Annual Report, which has current examples of claims.

Litigation commentary

The Group is involved in a number of legal and regulatory court proceedings in a number of countries.

These proceedings may be characterised as covering smoking and health issues and include claims for personal injury and claims for economic loss arising from the treatment of smoking and health-related diseases.

While it is impossible to be certain of the outcome of any particular case or of the amount of any possible adverse verdict, the Company believes that the defences of the Group companies to all these various claims are meritorious, both on the law and the facts.

Nevertheless, it is not impossible that the results of operations or cash flows of the Group could be materially affected by the final outcome of any particular litigation.

Types of case

There are a number of different types of claim which have been brought against the tobacco industry. The three most common are:

  • Recoupment actions, also known as third-party reimbursement cases, are where health care providers or similar organisations seek to recover the costs of treating diseases linked to smoking
  • Class actions are where a group of people jointly bring a single claim alleging that there are common issues which affect them all
  • Individual actions are brought by a single person who alleges, for example, that they have suffered damage to their health due to smoking.

In some cases, the plaintiff or plaintiffs may seek to recover what are known as punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.

For more detail on the cases in which BAT is currently involved, please refer to our Annual Report and Form 20-F 2018 (13.6 mb) , under the heading ‘Contingent liabilities and financial commitments’ (Note 28).

While it is difficult to predict the outcome of every lawsuit in every country, our companies will continue to vigorously defend smoking and health litigation, drawing confidence from the industry’s exceptionally good record when the law is properly applied.