19 Jul 2019

Man finds photo of amputated leg used on cigarette packets without consent

4:18 pm on 19 July 2019

A 60-year-old man in eastern France says he was stunned to discover that a picture of his amputated leg had been used on cigarette packets, as a warning against smoking, without his consent.

The picture was displayed on cigarette packets, alongside the message "smoking clogs your arteries".

But the Albanian man, who lives in Metz, said he lost his leg as the result of a 1997 shooting in Albania.

His lawyer is contacting the European Commission to find out what happened.

His son discovered the picture - which bore recognisable burns and scars - when he bought a packet of rolling tobacco last year in Luxembourg, French media report.

He brought the packet home to his family.

"He [my brother] was coming back from Luxembourg. Without saying a word, he put a big box of rolling tobacco on the table," his sister told regional newspaper Le Républicain Lorrain.

"We were stunned. We did not believe it."

The family thought it was indeed a picture of the father's leg. "It's our father's. His scars are characteristic," the daughter added.

But the man said he had never agreed to the picture being used. He believes it was taken at a local hospital he visited to find out whether he could be equipped with some kind of walking apparatus.

He has been walking using crutches for more than 20 years following a shooting incident in Albania in 1997, in which he lost his leg.

Client feels betrayed, lawyer says

The family's lawyer, Antoine Fittante, confirmed it is the man's leg.

"Each scar is specific, unique. This man also has burn marks on the other leg, it's very clear. An expert will have no trouble identifying the image.

"It's rather incredible that a person finds themselves without their agreement on cigarette packets throughout the European Union," Mr Fittante said.

"My client feels betrayed, wounded in his dignity, by seeing his disability [displayed] on cigarette packets in tobacconists; one must admit that's not very pleasant."

Mr Fittante has written to the hospital, to find out how the photos ended up being used.

The European Commission has been contacted as it is responsible for the distribution of such images on all EU cigarette packets.

Mr Fittante said the commission normally uses pictures from a database, which are verified and published with the consent of the person featured.