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Asbestos used in Cigarette Filters – Two Hits in One

KENT.pngKENT is a brand of cigarette manufactured by Lorillard Tobacco Company. The cigarette was actually named after Herbert Kent, a former company executive.

From March of 1952 until at least May of 1956 Kent Cigarettes featured a “Micronite Filter” that contained carcinogenic blue asbestos. In response to a series of articles published in Readers Digest referring to cigarettes as “cancer by the carton” Lorillard Tobacco Company marketed its first filtered cigarette; KENT with Micronite Filter. During this time period an estimated 13 billion KENT Micronite filtered cigarettes were sold in the U.S. and actually boasted to be “the greatest health protection in U.S. history. 1950s Kent Cigarette Advertisements KENT AD.pngdescribed “a pure, dust-free, completely harmless material that is so safe, so effective, it actually is used to help filter the air in hospital operating rooms.” “perfect for smokers who were unusually sensitive to tars and nicotine”. Medical experts have since identified the “completely harmless” secret ingredient used in Kent Micronite cigarettes as crocidolite asbestos (also called “African blue” asbestos), a known carcinogen which some experts believe is the most hazardous of the six types of asbestos. In a study performed on the filter at the Queensland lab, Fibers comprising the web between crepe paperlayers were of two types, organic and inorganic. The inorganic fibers were confirmed by polarizing light microscopy to be crocidolite asbestos; a single filter contained 10 mg of crocidolite. On the basis of a fiber length of 5 µm, a diameter of 0.1 µm, and a density of 3.2 gm/cm3, 1 filter could contain as much as 80 billion crocidolite asbestos fibers.

Although only about five out of every twenty cases against Lorillard Tobacco regarding their asbestos containing filter has resulted in a favorable decision for the plaintiff, there have been several noteworthy victories.

  • $2 million award in smoking lawsuit: Baltimore County man, Charles M. P. Connor, wins against makers of Kents, asbestos filter. April 30, 1999
  • Mr. Lenney was awarded 1.36 million dollars by a San Francisco jury. He had been diagnosed with mesothelioma in November 2009 and in 2010, he had to have a lung removed. Lenney v. Armstrong International Inc. et al., No. CGC-10-275529, verdict returned (Cal. Super. Ct., S.F. County Mar. 3, 2011).
  • A San Francisco Jury Awarded $1,048,100.00 in Kent Micronite Asbestos Cigarette Filter Case. The plaintiffs were Donna Traverso and Paul Bucedi for the Decedent Daisy Bucedi (nee Daisy Hammer).

The difficulty with this type of case and the reason why victories are so hard to come by is CAUSATION. What actually caused the onset of the disease? If one was exposed to asbestos in the work place or as a bystander and smoked, the proof regarding causation is very difficult to establish. What percentage, if any, of the exposure was a result of occupational or environmental exposure or from the use of the cigarettes?

medical reference books.jpgREFERENCES:
Queensland Laboratory News Details: Crocidolite Asbestos Fibers in Smoke from Original Kent Cigarettes