Dutch cancer charity joins lawsuit against big tobacco over holes in filters

Campaign group loses court case for more refugees

Cancer charity KWF Kankerbestrijding has made a formal complaint against the big four tobacco companies, accusing them of grievous bodily harm and fraud. The organisation says the tobacco firms have lied to smokers about the damaging side effects of their addiction, particularly by using cigarettes that give false readings in test results through the use of tiny ventilation holes in filters. Cigarette smoke is tested in laboratories for tar and nicotine, but the results are distorted by the use of holes. These are closed up by the mouth and fingers when people smoke, but left open during the testing process. This means people are inhaling up to 2.5 times more chemicals than lab reports show. The KWF says cigarette firms have done this deliberately to mislead the tests. The organisation is now joining forces with a law suit brought by smoker Anne Marie van Veen. ‘People are taking in more dangerous substances than we realised,’ director Michiel Rudolphie told the AD. ‘We knew about the holes but I have never really thought about the legal options... as an organisation that focuses on prevention, I feel we really must join this court case.' Deaths Some 20,000 people die because of the effects of smoking in the Netherlands every year, of which 12,000 have some form of smoking-related cancer. Van Veen’s lawyer Bénédicte Ficq says the KWF support is ‘unbelievably important.’ The tobacco industry does all it can to get people addicted, he said. Industry spokesman directeur Jan Hein Sträter told the AD tobacco firms are not concerned by the threat and that producers are doing nothing wrong. ‘This would appear to be all about publicity,’ he said. The public prosecution department is set to announce in the next few weeks whether to proceed with a prosecution, the AD said.  More >

Tweets to measure signs of trouble: CBS

Campaign group loses court case for more refugees Birdsong might announce the spring – but the Dutch statistics office is using Twitter to measure more worrying signs in society, reports NOS on Friday. According to the national broadcaster, the CBS service has been gathering all public tweets since 2010 and has now mapped these out to show spikes in anxiety or insecurity. A graphic from the new programme shows peaks of ‘social tension’ at moments such as terror attacks, the MH17 aircraft disaster and the disruption of Remembrance Day in 2010. The election of Donald Trump in America, according to the CBS, also apparently caused a sense of unrest in the Netherlands. Now it plans to do this analysis in real time, and ‘then we can foresee rising social tensions,’ a spokesperson told the NOS, suggesting that such information might be of interest to police – although this service has not responded to the suggestion. Key words The CBS’s Center for Big Data Statistics is developing the programme, which examines Dutch-language tweets that indicate social tensions, comparing these to the total of all messages on Twitter at the time. Words such as ‘terrorist’, ‘fear’, ‘violence’, ‘police’, ‘help’ and ‘protection’ are triggers, but positive tweets including these words – the CBS says – are omitted. ‘We see clear peaks at logical moments, such as after attacks,’ the spokesperson said in a press release, adding that although it had tried to analyse Facebook posts, this was less suitable as fewer are public and there’s less discussion of news. ‘Social media are ideal to measure feelings in the Netherlands,’ adds the organisation on its website. ‘People share their opinions over social issues, talk about their feelings and discuss how things are going in the Netherlands, from their point of view.’  More >

ANWB to rate bike paths for safety

Campaign group loses court case for more refugees The Dutch touring club ANWB is to begin awarding star ratings to 1,100 km of bike paths over the next six months in an effort to improve safety, the organisation said in a statement. The ANWB said that more than 12,000 people are seriously injured in accidents along bike paths every year. About half of these are caused by the conditions along the path. Poles, curbs and tram rails can make bicycling less safe. ANWB terms its ratings system CycleRAP and it will provide information about hazards which could cause serious accidents. Roads and bike paths will be rated from one to five stars, the latter being the safest. The ratings system will also be used to encourage provincial and local authorities to use road safety funds more effectively. The first CycleRap ratings will appear in Friesland, Groningen, Drente, Flevoland provinces. The areas around Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague will follow, the ANWB said.   More >

The Dutch had 1.4% more to spend last year

Campaign group loses court case for more refugees Dutch disposable household income rose by 1.4% last year, due in the main to higher wages, the national statistics office CBS said on Friday. However, while wages rose and more people were in work, the amount owned on mortgages also went up, the CBS said. The total amount paid to workers rose by 3.2% or €8.1bn, with collectively negotiated pay rising by an average of 1.9%. This was largely due to the 3.4% in civil service pay after several years of frozen salaries. In total, the Dutch owned €664bn on their mortgages at the end of last year.   More >

Suspected Antwerp attacker ‘was in NL'

Campaign group loses court case for more refugees A man who is suspected of an attempted attack in Antwerp had been arrested in Rotterdam a week before, reports the AD. Mohamed R, a 39-year old Frenchman of Tunisian origin, was arrested on Thursday after apparently trying to drive a car loaded with weapons through a crowd at high speed in the Belgian city. The Dutch AD paper cites Belgian newspaper, Het Laatste Nieuws, which claims that Mohamed R. had been picked up by police three times in the last week, once ‘in the Netherlands’. The AD claims that this was in Rotterdam, although a spokeswoman for the Rotterdam police said this is ‘currently under investigation’ and that a press release will be put out on Friday. London The man apparently tried to drive a car through a busy shopping street. Several pedestrians jumped aside and there were no injuries. The attempted assault came a day after a man named as Khalid Masood killed four people and injured 29 others in an attack in Westminster, London. R had, says the AD, been arrested for unknown reasons in Rotterdam on Friday March 17, and then was ‘ordered to leave the Netherlands.’ The man is in custody, although since he was reportedly drunk and on drugs, his motivation has not been established.  More >