In a way, this is unprecedented for an industry to sue a doctor who advocates for public health. But the company stressed that the controversy is not about the harmful nature of smoking, but about the too frequent mention of the brand they represent - “Salt” - in a news story.
The claim against lung doctor Alvils Krams concerns a news story by Rus.LSM.lv. In it, journalist Daniils Smirnovs revealed that selling flavored smokeless e-cigarettes did not meet all marketing conditions. Traders explained in a report that the advertising poster was accidentally pushed out into public view by a cleaner. The story interviews doctor Alvils Krams. He stressed that violations are visible and that electronic cigarettes are dangerous and smoking can lead to premature death.
“A trader of a toxic substance is suing a doctor who has publicly called on traders and state institutions to obey the law!” the doctor said.
“It is a dangerous signal to the whole medical sector and the public that the doctor's opinion and warnings to the public are attempted to be banned. It seems to me to be a unique trial in the context of the whole European Union,” Krams said.
The wholesaler's legal representative, lawyer Mārtiņš Dambergs, said the story too often shows and mentions the exact “Salt” brand, even though electronic cigarettes are marketed by many.
“In public, electronic cigarettes tend to be called salts, but “Salt” is just one brand. We want these differences to be respected,” explained Dambergs.
“This claim is not whether smoking is good or bad, or electronic cigarettes are better or worse, but it is precisely that a professor in the public space should choose expressions of how he describes considerations or facts with greater care,” the lawyer stated.
The media or journalist have not been sued. Just the doctor interviewed.
A sworn lawyer, Krams' spokeswoman in court Ilze Vilka, said that “the action was brought against a doctor who has defended the public interest, expressed an opinion that is important to the public.”
The wholesaler has assessed the damage to its reputation at EUR 5,000. Those calculations are not based on a drop in turnover, they are based on an assessment of the audience achieved and the reputation of the professor.
The ruling in the case is expected within a month.