South Korea’s Health Insurer Sues Tobacco Makers Over Costs
South Korea’s national health insurance body sued three cigarette makers for at least 53.7 billion won ($52 million) as compensation for health-care costs linked to smoking-related diseases.
National Health Insurance Service filed the suit against KT&G Corp. (033780), the former state-run cigarette maker privatized in 2002, and the local units of Philip Morris International Inc. (PM) and British American Tobacco Plc (BATS) in Seoul Central District Court, the insurer, which is overseen by the nation’s health ministry, said in an e-mailed statement today.
The lawsuit marks the first time a national agency has sought damages against an industry in which South Korea’s government was previously a key participant. The Korea Tobacco Association, which represents cigarette makers in South Korea, said in January the insurer’s proposed lawsuit has no legal merit based on past court rulings in favor of tobacco producers.