1950’s Asbestos-Riddled Cigarette Filters
Mesothelioma is a unique and rare form of cancer, typically affecting the lining of the lungs, caused by exposure to asbestos fibers.
Individuals primarily sickened with the asbestos-related disease were exposed to asbestos in the workplace, from asbestos on a family member’s clothes, or through home improvement projects.
One fact that has been constant in the research of mesothelioma causes is that, unlike many other predominantly pulmonary-related cancers, cigarette smoking does not cause mesothelioma.
However, smokers of Kent Micronite filtered cigarettes manufactured by Lorillard Tobacco between 1952 and 1956 may be at risk of developing the disease. That is because Lorillard used filters that contained asbestos.
Cigarette Filters Contained Asbestos
According to an article by Myron Levin of FairWarning, Kent’s ads promoted the Micronite filters as “the greatest health protection in cigarette history” because, they claimed, the filter removed more tar and nicotine than the competitor’s filters. However, the Micronite tip contained highly toxic crocidolite – “African blue” – asbestos. Lorillard never warned users about asbestos.
A study released in 1995 by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) found that there was no barrier or secondary filter between the end of the filter and the smoker’s mouth.
Thus, the smokers inhaled or swallowed the asbestos fibers in the filters which then became lodged in their body.Because asbestos fibers are essentially indestructible, the body’s immune system is powerless to break them down.
Crocidolite was the least used asbestos in commercial products, and was often used to make asbestos-cement products. However, the blue asbestos is one of the most potent carcinogens.
The author’s of the study concluded that the evidence strongly suggests that there is an increased risk of mesothelioma among people who smoked these cigarettes. In just one year alone, 1954, it is estimated that about 550,000 packs of Kent Micronite cigarettes were sold each day.
Decades Later, Smokers and Workers Battle Mesothelioma
Eventually, Lorillard changed the design of their cigarette filters and asbestos was removed. But the damage had already been done. It has been nearly six decades since anyone took a drag off these Kent cigarettes, but now hundreds of people are victims of mesothelioma.
Even workers in the plants that made the filters were stricken with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. In fact, in a 1989 study of plant workers, 34 workers were diagnosed with mesothelioma.
The authors concluded, “the extremely high morbidity and mortality in these workers were caused by intense exposure to crocidolite asbestos fibers.”
Many victims have filed lawsuits against Lorillard. Lorillard has nearly 90 percent of the cigarette marketplace and they aggressively defend these cases.
Today, experts report an untold number of people may be suffering from mesothelioma from these cigarettes. It can take up to 60 years for symptoms of mesothelioma to become apparent, and many of these former workers and smokers are now in their late 70’s or 80’s.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma , let the dedicated mesothelioma lawyers at Belluck & Fox, LLP New York work for you and your family.