A $5 million settlement is expected unleash a flood of wrongful death lawsuits against the makers of chewing tobacco, say experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorneys. This week, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. agreed to pay a $5 million settlement award to the family of a North Carolina man who died of mouth cancer in 2003. A tobacco chewer from the age of 13, Bobby Hill of Canton, NC was 42 when he died of cancer of the tongue. Hill’s wife filed the wrongful death lawsuit against the maker of popular Skoal and Copenhagen smokeless tobacco products in 2005. Philadelphia personal injury lawyers say the $5 million award is the first wrongful death settlement won against a chewing tobacco company.
Lost in the harsh media spotlight shown on the connection between cancer and cigarettes, the dangers of smokeless tobacco products have drawn little press and few legal battles. Philadelphia personal injury attorneys expect this week’s hefty settlement award to change that overnight. Smokeless tobacco products carry significant cancer risk. Chewing tobacco is addictive; users absorb twice as much nicotine as cigarette smokers. Smokeless tobacco use can cause cancer of the mouth, throat, lips, larynx and esophagus. According to American Cancer Society, tobacco use is responsible for 1 in 5 U.S. deaths.
While cigarette use has declined since 1964 when the U.S. Surgeon General first linked smoking to cancer, use of smokeless tobacco products has inched up. Erroneously considered less lethal than cigarettes, chewing tobacco is believed to be nearly risk free by many, particularly teens and young adults. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, the average age of first-time chewing tobacco users is 10. Young women who use chewing tobacco to control weight gain are the fastest growing user group.
If you use chewing tobacco and have been diagnosed with cancer, consult a Philadelphia personal injury attorney for a free case evaluation.