A group of heavy Marlboro smokers have filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, claiming Philip Morris USA should pay for CT scans that may detect the early stages of lung cancer.
The smokers (current and former) are all over 50 years of age and have smoked a pack or more of Marlboro cigarettes a day for 20 years.
According to the complaint, the New York plaintiffs are not seeking monetary awards in the form of punitive or compensatory damages.
A statement from Altria Group Inc., the parent of Philip Morris, said that, while the company had not yet seen the lawsuit, juries in two previous cases of smoker’s seeking payment for "medical monitoring," have returned verdicts in favor of the company.
The complaint alleges that Philip Morris should pay for the scans because its "misconduct in manufacturing and selling Marlboro cigarettes was and remains egregious and renders it liable."
New York attorney Jerome Block, who represents the plaintiffs, estimated the class size in the "tens of thousands" and said annual scans cost at around $500 each.
According to Block: "With early detection, the lung cancer can be found while it is still curable. Stage-one lung cancers are very curable but most lung cancer is diagnosed too late for treatment."
The Lung Cancer Alliance says that lung cancer is the No. 1 killer of all cancers, resulting in 30% of all cancer deaths and killing more people annually than kidney, breast, prostate, colon, and liver cancers combined.
Studies have shown that a low-dose CT scan can help detect cancer early while minimizing the risk of cancer from the X-ray procedure itself.