Smoking 50 cigarettes a day is giving one Mar del Plata resident a hefty payout. Hugo César Lespada, 65, has been awarded AR$300,000 after he sued Massalin Particulares, a cigarette manufacturer. It marked the first time a judge in Argentina has ruled against a cigarette company, which, obviously has vowed to appeal.

Having smoked since the age of 14, Lespada sued Massalin Particulares on the grounds that it caused his damaging addiction. “I go crazy if I don’t smoke,” he told Clarín in an interview.

The ruling sentenced the company to pay Lespada AR$110,000 pesos plus interest, equating to a sizeable AR$300,000 peso compensation. When Lespada started smoking in the 70s, he was allegedly a sporty lad who, after trying cigarettes, soon became addicted. Why ever start? Lespada blamed the “social benefits” advocated by companies. Cue 70s advertising: 

Smoking advertising

At that time the danger of smoking was not advertised by Massalin as the law to do so did not come into existence in Argentina until 1986. “He had not adequately been warned of the dangers of smoking,” ruled Judge Jose Mendez Acosta.

The judge further added that, “The producer must keep customers properly informed about the addiction that smoking causes and all the diseases that can occur as a result. If this did not take place, it cannot maintain that the consumer had adequate knowledge of the dangers caused by the product”.

The defence? Represented by Dr. Ricardo Mario Napp, stated that “addiction to harmful substances may be as a result of an addictive personality not induced by nicotine.”Massalin also emphasized, “our website shows that all our tobacco products are addictive.”

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