Alcoholics plan to sue

Scots will take on drinks industry for failing to include warnings

July 21, 2003 - A dozen Scottish alcoholics plan to sue producers of alcoholic beverages for failing to warn them about the dangers of alcohol addiction. The alcoholics, whose ages range from 18 to 60, plan to start legal action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh next month.


They will claim that their lives have been ruined by addiction to drink and that the drinks industry failed to warn them of the risks. In the United States, the drinks industry was forced long ago to carry health warnings and similar moves are being proposed in Ireland.

Ross Harper Solicitors, of Glasgow, represents the group and said that the arguments used will be similar to those employed by smokers with lung cancer who successfully sued tobacco companies in America.

"Any litigation would have to be based on whether or not the product causes harm and whether or not the producer has a duty of care to customers. Alcohol is now promoted in the same way that cigarettes were in the 1950s," said Jim Price of Ross Harper. "Manufacturers want us to believe that drinking alcohol is sexy and trendy. It was a very long time before cigarette manufacturers began putting warning signs on their boxes. The parallels are remarkable.

"You could argue that the same medical evidence (used in smoking suits) is there for alcohol. The purported illnesses our clients suffer follow the same pattern as the smoking arguments did."

The alcoholics, who are applying for legal aid, claim that alcohol caused health problems, job losses, relationship breakdown and adversely affected their quality of life. They will argue that manufacturers had a duty of care to warn them of the dangers of drinking alcohol.

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