Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Non-smoking Spaniard plans to sue over his photo used as a warning on cigarette packets

A 54-year-old man is about to take legal action after his image appeared on cigarette packaging, meant as a warning to smokers.

Photo by Melanie Tata / CC BY 2.0

Spain has recently passed legislation that all cigarette packaging must display gruesome images to warn smokers of the effects of their habit. In this particular case, the man was a patient at the Santiago de Compostela hospital in April last year for back problems and was photographed as he was being prepared for an operation to fit a titanium plate in his spine. The photograph of him was used with the warning “Smoking can cause embolisms and disability” on cigarette packaging.

The man, named only as FJTA, is a resident of Boiro in Galicia and went to the Spanish civil guard last week to sign a complaint against authorities at the hospital for using an image of him without his consent or approval. He believes the photo was taken while he was unconscious, as he is wearing breathing apparatus as he is being prepared for an operation.

According to the Spanish language newspaper La Voz de Galicia, several of his neighbors recognized him on the cigarette packages and informed him. The man was naturally angry, especially as he is a non-smoker and his medical condition had nothing to do with the habit.

Health authorities in Galicia have now launched an investigation to confirm that the image was indeed of FJTA and to discover how it came to be released for publication without the man’s permission.

Reportedly this isn’t the first time something like this has happened, as according to The Local, a Barcelona woman launched a similar complaint after an image of her late husband, taken when he was under treatment in a local hospital, suddenly appeared on cigarette packaging. In that case it is unknown whether the man was suffering the effects of smoking tobacco.