South Korea Sues Big Tobacco

In an unprecedented move, South Korea’s state health insurer announced Monday that it was suing three major tobacco companies for $51.9 million in damages for health issues related to smoking. The National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) is suing American Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, and the Korean Tobacco & Ginseng Corporation. In South Korea, only four tobacco lawsuits have been heard in the past. All have been by individuals and families, and none have been successful. NHIS has said it spends more than $1.6 billion on smoking-related diseases annually. “We believe the NHIS, as it takes responsibility for the health of the public and oversees the insurance budget, has a natural duty to bring this tobacco lawsuit,” said NHIS lawyer An Sun-young.