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“Safe” Cigarette Filters Found to Have Contained Deadly Asbestos Fibers

asbestos fibers cigarettesMost mesothelioma victims unknowingly inhaled deadly asbestos fibers into their lungs on their jobs, typically through materials used for building construction or auto parts.  Another large group of mesothelioma victims are family members who breathed in those asbestos fibers from clothing and other asbestos dust-covered items those who worked with asbestos brought into the home.

Now a new group of mesothelioma victims has emerged – people who smoked Kent cigarettes during the 1950s. Mesothelioma, a lethal lung disease, typically takes decades to produce symptoms signifying its malignant presence.

Kent cigarettes, produced by Lorillard Tobacco, had filters packed with deadly asbestos fibers. This was a selling point for the cigarettes touted as a safer alternative to other cigarettes by the company, according to a new article by FairWarning.org, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit investigative news organization focused on public health and safety issues, and published in the consumer advocate magazine Mother Jones.

“It’s hard to think of anything more reckless than adding a deadly carcinogen to a product that already causes cancer—and then bragging about the health benefits. Yet that’s precisely what Lorillard Tobacco did 60 years ago when it introduced Kent cigarettes, whose patented ‘Micronite” filter contained a particularly virulent form of asbestos,” the article states.

Lorillard allegedly added the filters to the cigarettes as a marketing gimmick, according to the article, to  relieve consumers’ fears of the harmful effects of tobacco and nicotine and keep them from quitting.  The harmful effects of smoking had just started to become public knowledge at that time.

The health benefits of the asbestos filter would prove false, but it  avoided the potential loss of millions of customers, according to the article.

Although it was already known that asbestos caused lung disease in miners and plant workers, the cigarette company reportedly banked on the reputation of asbestos as an effective filter material. It contracted with Hollingsworth & Vose to supply asbestos for the cigarette filter it called Micronite.

“What is ‘Micronite’?” one of its ads asked. “It’s a pure, dust-free, completely harmless material that is so safe, so effective, it actually is used to help filter the air in operating rooms of leading hospitals.”

Now six decades later, both companies face numerous lawsuits from former workers in its factories as well as former smokers who say they inhaled the asbestos fibers when they smoked. The company denies that enough asbestos fibers escaped from the filter to cause mesothelioma in smokers. But last month a Florida jury awarded $3.5 million in damages to a former Kent smoker with mesothelioma. In addition, Lorillard, based in Greensboro, NC, settled 90 cases in the last two years and has 60 more cases pending, according to its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

If you’re a former Kent smoker with mesothelioma, please keep in mind that Kazan Law has a particular expertise in handling these types of cases and can handle them nationwide.

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