to launch lawsuit against tobacco firms
Province wants to be repaid for smoking-related health-care
Reuter-CP. Toronto Star. Toronto, Ont.:Sep 26, 1996. p. A.29
VANCOUVER (Reuter-CP) - British
Columbia intends to sue tobacco companies in a bid to
recover health-care costs for smoking-related illnesses.
``We will be pursuing all our legal
options to the full limit,'' said B.C. Health Minister Joy
Legal experts believe the lawsuit,
similar to 16 already launched by American states, would be
the first of its kind by a governmental body outside the
MacPhail, in remarks released by her
ministry Tuesday, said the lawsuit was part of an
intensified campaign by the province to fight smoking.
``I have asked the lawyers in my
ministry . . . to pursue all options around taking the
tobacco companies to court for the health- care costs
imposed upon our system as a result of tobacco use.''
Fred Bass of the B.C. Doctors Stop
Smoking Project said smoking costs the provincial
health-care system an estimated $420 million to $560 million
A ministry spokesperson said no date
has been set for the lawsuit to be filed. The ministry has
also not released the names of the companies to be targeted.
``It's an excellent example of
leadership from British Columbia,'' Cynthia Callard,
executive-director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada,
said in an interview from Ottawa yesterday.
``The kind of political commitment it
would put behind the fight on tobacco would be helpful to
all citizens in all provinces.''
takes on tobacco giants.
The National - CBC Television. Toronto:Jun 16, 1997.
PETER MANSBRIDGE: Good evening.
British Columbia is taking on the tobacco giants like no
other province has done before. BC is demanding that tobacco
companies admit their products are addictive and deadly, and
that they help cover the cost of caring for sick smokers. If
the companies say no, the province is threatening to sue. We
begin tonight with the CBCs Terry Milewski.
UNIDENTIFIED: Alex, you're smoking!
TERRY MILEWSKI: British Columbia's
like everywhere else: a lot of young people think smoking is
cool, something to laugh about.
UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: We love to
smoke! It makes us healthy! Cigarettes are addictive! Ha ha
MILEWSKI: But the BC government says
it's no joke that every day 20 British Columbians start
smoking, and that half of those will eventually die from it.
Now BC is the first Canadian province to say it plans to
take the tobacco industry to court.
GLEN CLARK / PREMIER OF BC: To the
tobacco industry I am saying very simply, it's time to leave
our kids alone and finally begin to take responsibility for
the harm your products inflict upon our citizens.
MILEWSKI: Premier Glen Clark says his
government will sue the tobacco companies for the cost of
treating smoking- related illness -- but not yet. First,
he's asking the tobacco companies to do three things: stop
marketing to kids, admit the health dangers of tobacco, and
volunteer to pay for treating smoking-related diseases. No
one expects the industry to do that, so Clark's getting
ready for a lawsuit by bringing in new legislation making it
easier to sue tobacco companies and starting an anti-smoking
(TV Ad: U.S. Center For Disease
Control): You may get cancer, but I doubt you'll get the
truth from cigarette companies.
MILEWSKI: With grim TV ads like this,
provided free to the BC government by the US Centers For
Disease Control, BC hopes to lead a Canadian assault on big
ROB CUNNINGHAM / CANADIAN CANCER
SOCIETY: I think the impact is that the tobacco companies
are going to have to sit up and take notice like they never
have before and I think other provinces are going to look
much more aggressively at pursuing the same strategy.
MILEWSKI: Rob Cunningham wrote a book
about the industry called "Smoke And Mirrors," and
he applauds the BC approach. Raymond Greenwood does not. He
runs a popular firework show sponsored by a tobacco company.
RAYMOND GREENWOOD / "BENSON
& HEDGES" FIREWORK FESTIVAL: And I'd like to ask
Premier Clark what he going to do with all the taxes from
the tobacco industry? What's he done with those -- what
departments has he spent those on?
MILEWSKI: The BC government says it
takes in $450-million a year in tobacco taxes, but it says
it spends all of that and more -- $500-million a year -- on
treating smoking-related diseases. The industry's chief
lobbyist says that figure's inflated. He says what's really
going on here, is that governments are hooked on tobacco
taxes and that BC just wants more.
ROB PARKER / PRES., CANADIAN TOBACCO
MANUFACTURERS' COUNCIL: Voters in British Columbia and the
public nationally will have to judge whether this is a
sincere effort and a real need or, as whether it is as I've
described it, a thinly-disguised and politically-motivated
MILEWSKI: None of this stops anyone
smoking today, and a legal showdown is still a long way off.
But the federal government and several other provinces say
they share BCs concerns, and they'll meet in September to
discuss a national strategy against tobacco. Terry Milewski,
CBC News, Vancouver.
Copyright Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation. 1997 All Rights Reserved.
Indexing (document details)
Classification Codes 9172 Document types: Broadcast
transcript Publication title: The National - CBC Television.
Toronto: Jun 16, 1997. Source type: Transcript ProQuest
document ID: 439597471 Text Word Count 640
fight against tobacco industry could attract allies
CP Wire. Times - Colonist. Victoria, B.C.:Jun 18, 1997. p. 1
The Canadian Press Ian McKain/Times
Colonist photo REGINA Ottawa and the provinces should
consider pooling resources to take on large and wealthy
tobacco companies in court, Saskatchewan Health Minister
Eric Cline said Tuesday. He praised the British h Columbia
government's announcement Monday that it will bring in
legislation allowing class-action lawsuits against the
Ontario has not ruled out following
British Columbia's lead in pursuing tobacco companies to
reimburse the costs of smoking- related illnesses.
But Premier Mike Harris says that's
not a priority - prevention is.
"If we could prevent, discourage
people from smoking, it would be a moot point. I think
that's our primary goal," Harris said Tuesday.
B.C. wants to use its legislative
muscle to press for direct compensation for taking care of
people with smoking-related illnesses.
But it could be more cost-effective
if governments work together to take on the industry, Cline
"We, being a relatively small
province and the tobacco companies having very deep pockets,
perhaps we could work with some of the other provinces or
the federal government to take action together."
Cline said he hopes the issue will be
put "very near the top of the agenda" when health
ministers next meet, likely in September.
Federal Health Minister Allan Rock,
who has said he's watching B.C.'s plan with interest, also
wants to discuss a co-ordinated approach with the provinces.
A non-smokers' rights groups has
warned that tobacco industry lawyers will likely put up a
tough fight against the B.C. legislation.
Saskatchewan will consider applying
for intervener status to support B.C. in such a court
battle, Cline said.
"Anything that would do some
good plus would keep the cost to a minimum and not duplicate
efforts, I think would be a sensible way of going."
The four Atlantic premiers pledged
last month to look into suing tobacco manufacturers for
health-related costs of smoking.
Individuals in Ontario have taken
similar legal action against tobacco companies but Ontario
Health Minister Jim Wilson said that province had not made
any final decisions.
"Certainly, it's something we'll
take a close look at," Wilson said.
"We're not in any way ruling it
out. My view would be that we should be taking a national
"We have the toughest tobacco
control act in the country, so other provinces have some
catching up to do," he said, adding that Ontario has
fined more people for selling cigarettes to minors than any
The B.C. legislation would allow
class-action lawsuits against the tobacco industry and would
make it easier for the province to prove its case in court.
Ontario already has legislation in
place permitting class-action lawsuits.
The B.C. government is also planning
to implement tough licensing fees for tobacco manufacturers
who want to sell cigarettes. The money raised would be used
for provincial smoking-prevention programs.
Indexing (document details) People:
Cline, Eric Author(s): CP Wire Section: News Publication
title: Times - Colonist. Victoria, B.C.: Jun 18, 1997. pg. 1
Source type: Newspaper ProQuest document ID: 256496171 Text
Word Count 468
takes on Big Tobacco
Ken MacQueen. Maclean's. Toronto: Oct 16, 2006.
The U.S. got billions, and B.C. wants
in. But how will it use the money?
That Marlboro Man is one busy
cowpoke. From Alaska to Texas, he and other iconic American
cigarette brands are helping state governments build
bridges, fill potholes and balance budgets. Since 1998, U.S.
tobacco manufacturers have showered all 50 states with cash,
as part of a series of out-of-court settlements worth about
US$250 billion over 25 years. In exchange, the states are
barred from suing to recover health care costs. With some
ot'that cash earmarked tor measures to keep young people
from smoking, the settlements were heralded as a major
advance in weaning Americans off tobacco. Yet eight years
later, most states are spending their windfall on everything
but youth anti-smoking programs. And now the scent of major
money-enough to run the Canadian government for more than a
year-has British Columbia leading a band of provinces on a
similar legal quest to extract billions from Big Tobacco.
But to what end?
The U.S. experience offers both a
wealth of information and a cautionary tale as B.C. moves
closer to hauling cigarette makers into court. In 1994,
Minnesota was the first state to use antitrust and consumer
fraud laws against Big Tobacco. Its claims were similar to
those used by B.C.-that the industry misled the public about
the health risks of smoking, that it marketed to children,
and that it suppressed damaging medical research. Minnesota,
with & slightly larger population than B.C., initially
sought US$1.3 billion to recover health costs. Instead, with
the case about to reach the jury in 1998, the industry
settled for US$6.1 billion. It also agreed to a national ban
on tobacco branded merchandise, and on payments for using
cigarettes in movies. Three other states won similar
settlements. The industry, under siege, signed a Master
Settlement Agreement dividing US$205 billion among the
remaining 46 states.
The settlement, negotiated by former
state attorney general I Iubert "Skip" Humphrey,
set aside eight per cent of the money for an endowment to
reduce youth smoking. Just three years later, the
fund-credited with diverting some 14,000 young people from
smoking-was emptied by a new state administration facing a
fiscal crisis. Humphrey called the elimination of the
endowment a victory for tobacco companies, and a "total
mockery" of the purpose of the lawsuit. Jeanne Weigum,
president of the Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota, says
there were similar experiences across the land. "In
some states they enthusiastically embraced prevention
programs, and then they went away," she says. "In
others, they never even bothered. They jus! say, 'hey, free
Perhaps the greatest legaey, Weigum
says, is Minnesota's public repository of millions of
damning pages of once-seeret tobacco company files. The B.C.
government suit, first liled in 1998, draws heavily on those
and other industry records. Many are posted on its website
of the case (www.healthservices.
gov.bc.ca/gtiildford/index.litml). And B.C.'s case got a
significant boost last month, when the provincial appeal
court ruled it has jurisdiction over foreign tobacco
companies, which have a large stake in Canada. "The
foreign parent companies have very deep pockets," says
Rob Cunningham, an Ottawa-based lawyer and senior policy
analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society. "The potential
damages that could be recovered by B.C. and other provinces
is increased by possibly tens of billions of dollars."
Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and
Labrador have passed laws similar to B.C.'s Tobacco Damages
and Health Care Costs Recovery Act. Others are expected to
follow if B.C. gets to court.
Canadian manufacturers say
governments already extract damages through heavy
taxes-about $140 billion over the next 25 years by one
industry estimate. The U.S. payout was a "business
decision" and not an admission of guilt. Robert Bexon,
then head of Imperial Tobacco Canada, testified in 2001
before a Newfoundland legislative committee. Don't expect a
quick cash settlement in Canada, Bexon said-"It will
not happen." He called the U.S. settlements a
"shameful" cash grab by lawyers, who pocketed some
US$12 billion in fees, and by governments. "The vast
majority of funds," he said, "never found
themselves anywhere near the issues surrounding tobacco use
or health care."
It isn't clear if B.C. is any more
likely to spend settlement money on stopping the next
generation of smokers. Cunningham of the cancer society says
the aims of the lawsuit are provincial compensation for
health costs, and to exact a measure of justice and
deterrence. As for preventing future problems, he said the
society hopes "one outcome would be more resources to
prevent kids from starting, and to help smokers quit."
But Weigum, speaking from experience, says hope doesn't
count for much. Money creates its own set of cravings, and
politicians are far from immune. "If it's not written
into law," she says, "it ain't happening."
court rules against tobacco giants; B.C. court action to
recover billions in health care costs will go ahead;
[Final Edition] Bruce Constantineau.
The Vancouver Sun. Vancouver, B.C.: Apr 6, 2007
The Supreme Court of Canada has
rejected an application by multinational tobacco companies
to appeal a B.C. court ruling forcing them to stand trial in
B.C. over smoking-related health costs.
The decision means a civil trial can
proceed in B.C. as the province seeks to recover billions in
health-care costs going back decades.
"Obviously, I'm very pleased
with this result," Attorney General Wally Oppal said in
an interview Thursday. "All the jurisdictional
impediments have been dealt with, and we can now look
forward to having this case decided on its merits."
The tobacco companies had questioned
the jurisdiction of B.C. courts to hear a case against them
because they are multinational corporations headquartered
outside the province.
But the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled
provincial courts do have jurisdiction, and the Supreme
Court of Canada's decision reinforces that ruling.
The B.C. government claims tobacco
companies engaged in deceptive marketing, provided
inadequate health warnings and targeted children in the
1960s, '70s and '80s.
Tobacco companies fighting the B.C.
court action include R.J. Reynolds, Rothmans, British
American Tobacco, and Philip Morris.
Vancouver lawyer Kenneth Affleck,
representing Rothmans Inc., said the next step will be to
choose a trial date, which he expects will be "a few
years out" because of the complexities of the case.
Oppal hopes the trial can begin as
early as next year, although he acknowledged there are many
procedural issues to deal with before that can happen.
"It will take some time, but who
knows. Hopefully we might even be able to settle this
thing," he said.
B.C. has pursued the case for eight
years at an estimated cost of $20 million. A law passed in
2000 allows the B.C. government to collect damages if it can
show tobacco companies breached an obligation to the
province's citizens by failing to inform them of the risks
The U.S. tobacco industry agreed to a
massive $206-billion US settlement in the U.S. in 1998, with
payments being made over 20 years.
Oppal said lawyers from Atlanta have
been to B.C. to talk to him about helping out in the B.C.
"But so far it has been
progressing, so I'm not so sure we need anyone else's
help," he said.
Rothmans Loses Bid to Sue Canada
Over Health Costs (Update1)
By Joe Schneider, April 14, 2008
April 14 (Bloomberg) -- A judge threw out a lawsuit by Rothmans
Inc. and other tobacco companies that sought to blame
the Canadian government for health-related costs incurred by
The province sued the companies in
2001, seeking to recover billions of dollars spent by its
government-funded health-care system to treat people with
diseases such as emphysema and lung cancer. The companies
sued Canada last year, claiming federal officials were
responsible for the costs.
``The allegations cannot succeed
because Canada is immune to liability,'' British Columbia
Judge Catherine Wedge wrote in an April 11 ruling in
Vancouver. Only Parliament can lift the immunity, she said.
Tobacco companies have unsuccessfully
fought a British Columbia law that lets the province collect
damages if it shows the cigarette makers breached an
obligation to customers by failing to inform them of the
risks of smoking.
Ontario and other provinces have
passed laws to allow similar suits. New Brunswick sued March
13 to recover health- related costs from tobacco companies,
``The stakes are very high'' for tobacco companies, with
potential damages reaching into the tens of billions of
dollars, Rob Cunningham, a policy analyst with the Canadian
Cancer Society, said in a telephone interview. ``They'll try
what they can'' to avoid a trial.
Wedge also denied the companies'
request for a finding that they committed no
``tobacco-related wrongs,'' saying that will be determined
at trial. The companies can appeal Wedge's ruling to the
provincial appeal court and then, if necessary, to the
Supreme Court of Canada.
Karen Bodirsky, a spokeswoman for
Toronto-based Rothmans, declined to comment, saying lawyers
were still reviewing the ruling. Rothmans makes Benson &
Companies that sued included the
Imperial Tobacco unit of British
American Tobacco Plc, which makes Canada's top selling
du Maurier and Players brands, and JTI-MacDonald, a unit of
Japan Tobacco Inc.
The companies claimed that the federal government was
responsible for the wrongful conduct alleged by the province
because it created programs requiring warnings on packages,
disclosures of amounts of tar and nicotine, and the
promotion of ``light'' and ``mild'' cigarettes.
The government argued it was acting
as the nation's health regulator, trying to find a solution
to a public health problem.
The case is Between Her Majesty the
Queen in the Right of British Columbia and Imperial Tobacco
Canada Ltd. and the Attorney General of Canada, S010421.
Supreme Court of British Columbia (Vancouver).