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Legal Aid Floodgates Are Opened

Legal Aid Floodgates Are Opened

Monday 12 Aug 2002

Granting legal aid to Janice Pou to allow her to sue cigarette companies is wrong in principle and an appalling waste of taxpayer money, ACT New Zealand Acting Leader Ken Shirley said today.

"The floodgates have been opened. A precedent has been created, and now all people who perceive themselves to be victims of lifestyle choices can line up for taxpayer backing for their legal cases.

"Will alcoholics qualify for legal aid to sue the booze barons? Will overweight people suffering ill health get taxpayer funding to sue fast food chains? Clearly this decision is a nonsense.

"The potential harm from cigarette smoking has been well-documented and widely accepted for many decades.

"While we can all sympathise with Janice Pou's predicament, nobody forced her to smoke - it was her choice, and her actions alone.

"Healthy lifestyle choices are an important part of health promotion, and individual responsibility must be the starting point.

"The taxpayers are not responsible, and should not be expected to stump up with legal aid in cases such as this," Mr Shirley said.


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