The High Court has dismissed a claim being taken by a 58-year-old man against three tobacco companies and the state for damages caused by the effects of tobacco smoking.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan ruled there was inordinate and inexcusable delay by lawyers on behalf of John Thomas McCormack from Abbeylara in Co Longford in proceeding with the case.

Mr McCormack began smoking in around 1960 when he was 12-years-old.

In September 1996, he was diagnosed with arterial disease.

The court was told that despite this he could not stop smoking.

He took a claim against PJ Carroll and Company limited, Player and Wills (Ireland) Limited and Gallagher (Dublin) limited as well as the Minister for Health and Children, Ireland and the Attorney General.

Mr Justice Gilligan ruled the allegations went back to 1960 and 1961 and Mr McCormack had a cause of action since his diagnosis in 1996.

He said the delay in prosecuting the case would give rise to a real and serious risk of an unfair trial.

He said it was also unfair to the defendants.

17 other cases are outstanding against the three tobacco companies.