The Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) is the first
hospital/research institution in the Netherlands to file a report
in the ongoing criminal case against tobacco manufacturers. In
doing so, the NKI asks the Public Prosecution Service to take steps
against the tobacco manufacturers. The NKI believes that it is
'banging its head against a brick wall' and this has to stop.
Figures show that no less than 30% of the NKI patients die as a
result of smoking. In the Netherlands, at least 55 people die every
day because of smoking. As a result of their smoking behaviour of
20 years ago, women are now more likely to die from lung cancer
than from breast cancer.
According to the Netherlands Cancer Institute, civil proceedings
across the world have not solved the problem of smoking. "Every
day, we do our utmost to provide cancer patients with the best
possible care. Our researchers and practitioners are continuously
looking for solutions to the cancer problem and the best treatment
for all their patients. At the same time, we see tobacco
manufacturers knowingly cause people to become addicted to the most
carcinogenic product in existence: the cigarette", says professor
René Medema, chairman of the Board of Directors of the NKI. "No
less than 30% of all the cancer patients get the disease as a
result of smoking. Many people still do not sufficiently realize
that two out of three smokers actually die from the effects of
tobacco. A quarter of them die even before their retirement.
Smoking also affects the occurrence of chronic diseases such as
COPD, heart and brain failure. The risk of, for example, a heart
attack is three to six times higher."
It is not the first time the Netherlands Cancer Institute speaks
out against the tobacco industry. Last year, the Board of Directors
called on the negotiators of the current government, asking them to
work on a tobacco-free society in this new government term as well.
According to the NKI, smoking is one of the most serious
addictions, the tobacco industry knows that and acts upon it in a
scandalous way. The blame for the addiction therefore lies with the
tobacco industry, not with those who have knowingly been made
For the Netherlands Cancer Institute, the 'Hippocratic
Oath' taken by physicians, combined with the NKI's goals and
evolving insights, has induced the organisation to file a report at
this very moment. Medema: "Our goal is to understand cancer and to
improve cancer treatments. It cannot be that this goal is not
achieved and is interfered with by tobacco manufacturers. Based on
our mission on the one hand, the oath taken by our physicians on
the other hand and the social responsibility it involves, we
believe that we have to take action. By being the first to file a
report, we hope that many other doctors, hospitals and/or research
institution will follow."
The report in the current criminal case against tobacco
manufacturers was filed by criminal lawyer Bénédicte Ficq with the
Public Prosecution Service in Amsterdam today. In 2016, on behalf
of a number of social organisations and patients, she pressed
charged against the four largest tobacco manufacturers that are
active in the Netherlands. The charges are grievous bodily harm,
intentionally injuring people's health and forgery of documents.
And now the NKI joins the case. Ficq is very pleased with these
steps and the call of the Netherlands Cancer Institute: "Doctors
should gain a much more thorough understanding of nicotine
addiction in order to inform their patients better. Explaining them
how they are being lied to, what nicotine addiction is and how
malicious and vicious manufacturers and the product are", says
Ficq. "You're not only a good doctor if you treat your patients
well, but also if you believe that you have a preventative,
informational role. The steps taken by the NKI are an enormous
help. The tobacco industry must be stopped. Especially given the
fact that the industry is now trying to induce vulnerable people in
the third world to start smoking en masse. This is incredibly
criminal in my opinion."