June 5, 2001 TORONTOJOE BATTAGLIA CAN CLAIM MORAL VICTORY, EVEN AFTER APPARENT DEFEAT BY BIG TOBACCO IN TORONTO SMALL CLAIMS COURT
Joe Battaglia is one of only a handful of Canadians to have attempted to take on Big Tobacco in court. His lawyer, Doug Lennox, argued before Madam Justice Pamela Thompson that Joe had been deceived. He smoked his Matinée Extra Milds, mistakenly believing that they would be less hazardous to his health. When he realized he had been deceived, he took Imperial Tobacco, the manufacturer of Matinées to small claims court. While Madam Justice Thompson was not persuaded by Joe's arguments and, in the end, sided with the tobacco company, Joe clearly gave Big Tobacco a big scare.
Regardless of the outcome, senior officials from Imperial Tobacco were obliged to come to court to defend their actions. And they did not do very well. For example, Donald Brown, former Chief Executive Officer of Imperial Tobacco said in court, "We have an understanding that consumers accepted that lower tar and nicotine cigarettes were less hazardous."
"Tobacco companies have shamelessly traded on this belief to market 'light' cigarettes to Joe Battaglia and millions of other Canadians," said Neil Collishaw, Research Director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. "Even if Joe did not win, his case succeeded in getting a substantial number of astonishing admissions from senior tobacco company executives on the public record," continued Mr. Collishaw. "I hope other smokers who have been deceived and provincial governments who have had to foot the health care bills will use the information that is now on the public record, thanks to Joe Battaglia, to launch new legal actions against the tobacco industry," he concluded.
Notwithstanding Joe's setback in Small Claims Court, millions of Canadians continue to smoke "light" and "mild" cigarettes. According to a 1995 survey, over half the smokers in Canada (57% of women, 53% of men) smoke "light" and "mild" cigarettes.
According to a 1999 survey, 1.5 million Canadian smokers do not believe that "light" cigarettes are as harmful as regular cigarettes.
For further information, contact: Neil Collishaw, Research Director Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada Tel: (613) 233 4878, mobile: (613) 792 3875
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Last revised: January 16, 2015
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