Asbestos and cigarettes have both separately been linked to lung cancer, but now they’re intertwined in a lawsuit together. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a mesothelioma victim was just awarded $1.4 million dollars in his mesothelioma lawsuit against Lorillard Tobacco Co. You may be wondering just how these two deadly products came to be involved in the same case, and it is part of an interesting history.
At the beginning of the 1950s, tobacco companies were becoming concerned by the increasing murmers of a connection between cigarettes and lung cancer. In a bid to dismiss concerns, companies began offering filtered cigarettes. Lorillard Tobacco was the company who employed the brilliant idea of using Micronite filters in their Kent cigarettes and boasted them as a healthy and smart alternative to unfiltered cigarettes. These Mirconite filters were composed of a mixture that was 70 percent cotton/acetate and 30 percent crocidolite asbestos. This specific form of asbestos is regarded by many experts as the most hazardous of the six minerals classified as asbestos. Between 1952 and 1957, Kent sold near 13 billion of these asbestos-laden smokes.
This is where Don Lenney, the plaintiff who was awarded $1.4 million comes in. Mr. Lenney smoked Kent cigarettes when they contained Micronite fibers and is now afflicted with the terminal cancer mesothelioma. These filters were so thick that smokers like Mr. Lenney would inhale deeper to obtain their full flavor, causing asbestos fibers to be inhaled with the smoke. The fibers then embedded themselves in his lungs, scarring and irritating membranes which later led to the development of his asbestos cancer.
Don Lenney’s story is tragic and underlines the need to ban asbestos in the United States. Even with all the scientific data, this deadly material is still legal. While cigarette filters no longer contain asbestos, the fiber is still manufactured and used everyday, and exists potentially everywhere – in products such as insulation, drywall, duct tape and even children’s toys.
Together, we can stop this deadly legacy and ban asbestos now.