Monday, April 14, 2014

S. Korea's National Health Insurance Company will sue tobacco manufacturers


Since the 90s there has been a backlash against cigarette makers in the USA.  (A backlash is when there is a negative response to what someone has been doing.)  For many years cigarette companies denied that there was conclusive proof (real proof) that cigarettes caused cancer.  Finally, during the Clinton presidency (in the 90s), the US government supported efforts to curb smoking in the USA. (To curb something means to lessen something, or inhibit something.)

We can see that a government agency in Korea is finally trying to hold cigarette companies responsible for the bad health that cigarette smoking causes.  I was shocked, by the way, to see that 1/4 of South Koreans smoke.  I have worked with many Korean students and they tell me that men often pick up the habit of smoking while they are in the military (military service is compulsory for men - they have to do it) and I have been told that South Korea is a very competitive country in which people often feel a great deal of stress and pressure. ('Competitive' means the opposite of 'cooperative' - to compete means to try to beat another person at something or to struggle against others.)

Here is an article about this situation:

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-27017629

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

to sue someone or some company - to take someone or a company to court to legally stop them from doing something or to receive money from them as a type of punishment against them.  So this Korean agency is trying to get a judge to punish the tobacco companies by fining them a great amount of money for the harm these companies have done to people's health.

to offset costs - to cut down on their costs or to help pay their costs; the government health insurance provider is spending a lot of money treating people with respiratory (breathing) problems due to smoking, so they want the tobacco companies to have to share in these costs.

damages - this would be the punishment; if someone is awarded damages, he/she receives money from the 'guilty' party

$1.6bn - 1.6 billion dollars - 1,600,000,000

a lack of proof - this is really confusing to me.  The Supreme Court seems to be protecting the cigarette companies, since most developed countries have openly admitted that cigarettes cause various types of diseases.  So one government group is saying that ciagarettes cause cancer while the Supreme Court is denying what seems to be the truth.

addiction - when you can't stop using/eating/doing something

to be banned - to be against the law, to be prohibited

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