Saturday, March 25, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

N.Y. Court Overturns Award To Smoker’s Widow

NEW YORK (CN) - In reversing a jury award to a smoker's widow, a New York appeals court ruled that smokers may as well "smoke lettuce" if light cigarettes were an acceptable substitute for nicotine-loaded regular cigarettes.

A divided court overturned an award to a man whose wife, Norma Rose, died after several years of smoking. The court rejected his claim that Rose might have been spared from fatal lung cancer if cigarette companies sold only the lower-nicotine "light" cigarettes.

"In our view, plaintiffs could not make a prima facie case that light cigarettes were a feasible alternative to regular cigarettes without presenting evidence on consumer acceptability," Justice Friedman wrote.

A lower-nicotine product will not suffice for people who smoke for the nicotine, the ruling states. The justices rejected the trial court's view that a cigarette's function is "to be lit, burned and inhaled."

"A person presumably could smoke lettuce if cigarettes existed only to provide the smoker with the opportunity to light up and inhale," Friedman said.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.