[EDITORIALS]KT&G should admit its guiltA lawsuit claims KT&G, formerly named Tobacco and Ginseng Corp., covered up the connection between smoking and lung cancer even after it was alerted to the danger in 1969, when it was still the Tobacco and Ginseng Corp., a government monopoly.
If the lawsuit against KT&G and the government, filed on behalf of lung cancer patients and their families, is proved to have grounds, then the government seems to have committed a serious crime against the people.
The lawyers presented documents that contend that KT&G knew of the link and confirmed it through experiments. Some excerpts from the lawsuit filing: “KT&G acquired the research result of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that proved that arsenic caused lung cancer and confirmed that arsenic is in cigarette smoke. ... KT&G confirmed, from research material overseas, that cigarette smoke threatened human life because large quantities of cancer-causing agents were in it, and confirmed the addictive nature and harmful effects of nicotine through animal experiments in 1980.”
Although KT&G said the claims were “an exaggeration,” there is a strong suspicion that the company, worried about a fall in sales, must have concealed the fact that cigarette smoke is harmful.
KT&G shouldn’t try to minimize the ripple effect any longer. The suspicion about its behavior was raised after analyzing 464 research papers. The company’s attitude is enough to earn the fury of the people. From now, KT&G must make public all information related to the dangers of cigarettes and allow experts to examine it.
Although the court’s final decision is pending, the government and KT&G must apologize to the people for ignoring them and change their policy on cigarettes.
Last year, the World Health Organization adopted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Cigarette smoke contains some 4,000 chemical materials, including 40 kinds of cancer-causing agents. Worldwide, some 50 million people die annually due to problems related to smoking.
In Korea, where the rate of smokers among men is the highest in the world at 64 percent, tobacco policy is still part of industrial policy. How long shall we go against the tide? We urge the government to switch to a nonsmoking policy and make public health a priority.