Abdul-Ahad v. Top Tobacco Co., et al.

A prisoner filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983, alleging that smoke produced by fellow prisoners smoking tobacco manufactured by Top Tobacco has caused him shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing.  The court dismissed the complaint against the tobacco companies because they are not “state actors.”  Thus, the court had no jurisdiction over them.  The claims against the prison officials were dismissed for failure to state a claim.  The court noted that the plaintiff failed to prove that he was subjected to secondhand smoke to such an extent that it would be contrary to current standards of decency, since he does not allege that he has any recognized medical condition that makes him sensitive to smoke or that he sought medical attention for his coughing and shortness of breath. Also, he failed to show that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his condition.  Unless the defendant “knew not only of Abdul-Ahad’s complaints of discomfort, but that a smoke-free environment was medically necessary, her failure to provide would not support” a prisoner’s claim that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated.

1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16288 (U.S.D.C. N.D. Ill. 1999).