PERRON vs. RJR MacDonald

 

June, 20th, 1988:
Vancouver lawyer Russell Stanton filed a suit against RJR MacDonald Inc. on behalf of his client, Roger Perron. Roger Perron had lost both his legs through amputation as a result of Buerger's Disease. 

The claim stated that RJR-MacDonald had been negligent in failing to carry out proper research to determine the effect of tobacco upon smokers, failing to test and research adequately the risk of Buerger's disease createsd by smoking, failing to inform itself of the hazards of tobacco products, failing to warn smokers, doctors, retailers and consumers, failing to warn those suffering from Buerger's disease.  The claim also stated that the "artful and insidious" advertising of the company's products would have nullified any warnings using tobacco and that it failed to warn of the "psychological dependancy."

A news conference was held to announce the law-suit.  Participating in the conference were Russell Stanton, as well as David Stuart, president of the British Columbia Trial Lawyers Association, David Sweanor of the Non smoker's Rights Association, and Dr. Fred Bass.

During the press conference, it was acknowledged that this action was "part of an international trend for the recovery of damages arising from tobacco-related diseases" and reference was made to the Cipollone decision in New Jersey the previous week.

June 22, 1988:
An opinion piece by U.S. Litigator John Banzhaff was printed the following week in the Toronto Star. An appeal for funds for the lawsuit was reported in early July.

The following judgments on the case were issued:

February 2, 1990: 
 The Court of Appeal for British Columbia upheld a prior court ruling against RJR-Macdonald's request that the action be dismissed because the limitation period was over.

March 22, 1993:  
The Supreme Court of British Columbia issued reasons for its ruling that the limitation period had expired.

Industry documents discussing the trial include:

 


Media Coverage


 

Man who lost legs from smoking sues tobacco firm:[FIN Edition]

CP.  Toronto Star.  Toronto, Ont.: Jun 20, 1988.  p. A3 

VANCOUVER (CP) - A Vancouver man who says smoking caused the loss of his legs was to file a lawsuit today against a U.S. cigarette maker, said his lawyer.

It is the first such lawsuit in Canada against the tobacco industry, said Russell Stanton, who represents Roger Perron, 35, who suffers from Berger's Disease, also known as smoker's leg, which narrows arteries, often resulting in amputation.

"We are saying he lost his limbs because he was not warned that smoking could result in this disease."

ProQuest document ID: 473808841

Text Word Count 85


Tobacco firm faces lawsuit from smoker who lost his legs:[4* Edition]

The Vancouver Sun.  Vancouver, B.C.:Jun 20, 1988.  p. A3 

A 35-year-old Vancouver man who says he lost both legs in a rare disease caused by smoking goes to court today to file a writ in what his lawyer believes is Canada's first such lawsuit against the tobacco industry.

Former heavy equipment operator Roger Perron, who claims he smoked Exports for 17 years, suffers from Berger's Disease, also known as "smoker's leg," which narrows the arteries in the leg, restricting circulating and often resulting in the need for amputation, his lawyer, Russell Stanton, said.

"We are saying he lost his limbs because he was not warned that smoking could result in this disease," Stanton said.

Perron, the single parent of an eight-year-old boy, is suing RJR Macdonald Inc., a subsidiary of the U.S.-based R.J. Reynolds Industries Inc., for unspecified damages for wage loss and injuries.

Stanton said the suit will claim that RJR Macdonald knew of the danger of Berger's Disease associated with smoking, but did nothing to warn smokers.

He said a written warning should have been carried on the cigarette package.

The B.C. Supreme Court suit follows a landmark U.S. court ruling last week that a cigarette maker had contributed to the death of a smoker.

Stanton said Perron started smoking at the age 13, and quit cold turkey in 1983 after the loss of his second leg. He lost his job and now lives on a disability pension.

Stanton said if the suit is successful, Perron is willing to set aside part of his award to be used by other smokers for other actions against tobacco companies.

He said Berger's Disease usually strikes men in the 20-to-40 age bracket, but research indicates that women can also become afflicted.

In the U.S. case, a federal court jury awarded $400,000 US in damages to the husband of a woman who died of lung cancer at the age of 58.

It was the first case of a tobacco company being ordered to pay money for a disease caused by cigarettes.

The jury found the woman was 80-per-cent responsible for her death.

Stanton said he will be relying in part on a 1986 Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that Ortho Pharmaceutical (Canada) was negligent in the case of a woman who suffered a stroke after taking the company's birth control pills.

The woman was awarded $837,000 damages from the defendant after the Ontario court declared that manufacturers of birth control pills should warn consumers of all possible side effects in taking the drugs.

ProQuest document ID: 171601831


Ex-smoker first Canadian to sue a tobacco firm:[FIN Edition]

Tim Harper Toronto Star.  Toronto Star.  Toronto, Ont.:Jun 21, 1988.  p. A23 

Full Text (388  words)
Copyright 1988 Toronto Star, All Rights Reserved.

VANCOUVER - A former pack-a-day smoker who says his habit cost him his legs has become the first Canadian to sue a tobacco manufacturer for damage from his addiction.

Roger Perron, a 35-year-old single parent of a 7-year-old boy, yesterday filed suit in British Columbia Supreme Court, seeking unspecified damages against the giant RJR MacDonald Inc. cigarette manufacturer.

Perron lost both his legs to Buerger's Disease, a rare condition that doctors say is found almost exclusively in smokers.

Perron's addiction to cigarettes was so severe he continued smoking even after the amputation of his left leg in 1980, he said in the statement of claim.

It was only after the loss of his other leg in 1983 that an acupuncturist finally stopped a habit that had seen the former heavy equipment operator smoke 20 to 25 cigarettes daily since age 13.

"I tried to (quit) many times. I just couldn't stop," Perron said.

The first Canadian lawsuit came one week after a jury in Newark, N.J., found that the cigarette manufacturer Liggett Group Inc., was partially responsible for the death of Rose Cipollone, who died of lung cancer. Her family was awarded $496,000.

But the next day, a federal appeals court in Cincinnati, Ohio, dismissed a lawsuit from a man who had lost his left leg to pulmonary disease. The court cited a 1966 U.S. Congress decision that compelled cigarette manufacturers to warn customers of the dangers of smoking.

That was the fourth time a U.S. court had cited the 1966 labelling law in tossing out a lawsuit.

Jeffrey Labow, a spokesman for RJR MacDonald Inc., a wholly owned Canadian subsidiary of the London-based RJR Tobacco International Inc., said the company will defend itself "vigrously, with all he resources at our command.

"The fundamental question is, is it fair for someone who freely chooses to smoke and then becomes ill to try to put responsibility for his voluntary choice on to someone else."

David Sweanor of the Toronto-based Non-Smokers' Rights Association, said the labelling argument used by U.S. manufacturers will have no bearing in a Canadian court.

He said the U.S. industry has argued that the warning on cigarette packages is the one dictated by legislation passed by Congress.

"In Canada, the warnings you see on cigarette packages are put there voluntarily," he said.

ProQuest document ID: 473811661


Smoke lawsuit called warning:[3* Edition]
JOANNE MacDONALD.  The Vancouver Sun.  Vancouver, B.C.:Jun 21, 1988.  p. A3 

Roger Perron says he launched a landmark lawsuit against tobacco giant RJR-Macdonald Inc. because he wants to spare others the physical suffering he's endured due to the effects of tobacco consumption.

"I feel they (the company) should warn the public more that smoking is dangerous to anybody's health. You don't want to get cancer (and) there are other kinds of diseases that smoking aggravates or causes. It hurts," Perron, told reporters Monday at a news conference in Vancouver.

The 35-year-old city man, a former heavy equipment operator who says he smoked the Export brand for 17 years, had his legs amputated after contracting Buerger's disease.

The disease, which usually strikes males between age 20 to 40, narrows the arteries in the leg, restricting circulation.

Perron filed a writ Monday in B.C. Supreme Court against RJR-Macdonald Inc. for an unspecified amount in damages, saying the company failed to warn people of the effect of tobacco in association with Buerger's disease and that it is unsafe and harmful to their health. Perron is seeking compensation for his loss of limbs, interference in his ability to make a living and costs.

The company is a subsidiary of the U.S.-based R.J. Reynolds Industries Inc.

The B.C. Supreme Court suit follows a landmark U.S. federal court ruling last week that a cigarette maker had contributed to the death of a smoker.

In that case, a jury awarded $400,000 US in damages to the husband of a woman who died of lung cancer at the age of 58. The jury found the woman was 80-per-cent responsible for her death, but it was the first case in which a tobacco company was ordered to pay money for a disease caused by cigarettes.

He told reporters he does not want to settle out of court because he wants "to make a point here."

The unemployed Perron, who is on a disability pension and raising his seven-year-old son alone, said his message to others is simple: "Don't smoke."

Jeff Labow, vice-president of corporate affairs for RJR-Macdonald, said from Toronto the manufacturer plans to use all of its resources in its defence.

"The decision to smoke is a matter of individual choice and personal responsibility," Labow said. "Is it fair for someone who chooses to smoke and becomes ill to put the responsibility on someone else?"

Perron's statement of claim filed in court says in 1976, at age 24, he began to suffer loss of circulation, pain and discomfort in his lower extremities that increased so much that in 1980, his left leg had to be amputated.

An autopsy of the leg showed he suffered from Buerger's disease.

However, Perron said Monday that because of his addiction, he was unable to quit smoking and the disease progressed.

He said that in 1983, after his right leg was amputated, he quit smoking - with the help of acupuncture - and the disease has remained dormant.

David Sweanor, staff counsel for the Non-Smokers Rights Association based in Toronto, told the news conference the Perron litigation will be based on a 1986 ruling from the Ontario Court of Appeal.

In that case, Ortho Pharmaceutical (Canada) was found to be negligent in the case of a woman who suffered a stroke after taking the company's birth control pills.

The woman was awarded $837,000 in damages after the Ontario court ruled that manufacturers of birth control pills should warn consumers of all possible side effects in taking the drugs.

ProQuest document ID: 171601011


Smoker sues tobacco firm over ailment:[Final Edition]

The Gazette.  Montreal, Que.:Jun 21, 1988.  p. A11 

VANCOUVER (CP) - A former heavy-equipment operator, who says he lost his legs to a smoking-related disease, filed a landmark lawsuit yesterday against a Canadian tobacco manufacturer.

Roger Perron's lawsuit, against RJR Macdonald Inc., marks the first time in Canada that a tobacco company has been sued for damages relating to diseases suffered by smokers.

A U.S. Federal Court jury in New Jersey awarded Antonio Cipollone $400,000 in damages last week after finding tobacco company Liggett Group Inc. partially to blame for the death of his wife, Rose. She died in 1984 of lung cancer.

Perron, 35, of Vancouver, is a victim of Buerger's disease, an arterial ailment - aggravated by smoking - that cuts off the circulation to the limbs. Both his legs were amputated below the knee.

David Sweanor, lawyer for the Non-Smokers' Rights Association, said Perron's suit claims that warnings issued by Canadian tobacco firms are inadequate.

RJR Macdonald official Jeff Labow said in an interview from Toronto that "the decision to smoke is a matter of individual choice and personal responsibility."

Perron, an unemployed single father, said he was told to stop smoking after he lost one of his legs in 1980, but didn't quit until after he lost his other leg in 1983, 17 years after he started smoking.

Perron's lawyer, Russell Stanton, said the case would probably not go to trial for at least a year. He said he had been holding back the action until the U.S. court ruling in New Jersey had been rendered.

[Illustration]

Black & White Photo; Caption: ROGER PERRON Launches landmark lawsuit

ISSN: 03841294


Amputee needs money to fight tobacco firm:[3* Edition]

LISA KELLER.  The Vancouver Sun.  Vancouver, B.C.:Jul 6, 1988.  p. A13 

Roger Perron, the Vancouver man who last month sued tobacco company R.J.R. Macdonald Inc. after losing both his legs to Buerger's disease, says the lawsuit may be unavoidably delayed because he can't pay his legal bills.

"I'm starting to accumulate bills," Perron said. "I won't let the action die, but it may take years now, because I can only pay so much each month."

Perron said he's not eligible for legal aid, and he has not negotiated a contingency fee deal with his lawyer, Russell Stanton.

He is seeking compensation for loss of his legs, interference in his ability to earn a living and costs.

Perron hopes he'll receive donations from the public, and plans to open an account for the money, to be used specifically for the lawsuit.

"I'm getting a lot of support from a lot of people, but none of it financial. I'm not the only one with Buerger's disease or cancer, and if we do set a precedent with this case, it will help thousands of others," he said.

Perron says he had smoked Export cigarettes for 15 years before he was struck with the disease, which narrows leg arteries and restricts circulation.

After his left leg was amputated in 1980, Perron continued to smoke until his right leg was amputated three years later.

The 35-year-old single father wants to go into elementary schools in the fall in an effort to educate children about the dangers of smoking.

"I want to prove my point. I want to show the kids what happened to me, so they won't start smoking."

ProQuest document ID: 171626541

Text Word Count 271


Tobacco firms have been getting off easy But recent lawsuits will shift cost of smoking away from taxpayers:[FIN Edition]

John F. Banzhaf III.  Toronto Star.  Toronto, Ont.:Jun 22, 1988.  p. A33   

 When the U.S. surgeon general announced that other people's smoking causes cancer in non-smokers, the tobacco industry proclaimed it a "victory" because he didn't also claim that it caused non-smokers to suffer heart attacks. Now, after frightening away attorneys for years by boasting that its multi-million- dollar defences couldn't be breached, the industry is again claiming victory: This month a jury found that smoking caused Rose Cipollone's lung cancer and agonizing death, and ordered it to pay $400,000 - more than the average wrongful death verdict.

 Myth shattered

 But, in fact, the myth of tobacco industry invulnerability was forever shattered when a young lawyer from a small New Jersey law firm beat their $20 million defence team - a victory all the more telling because it came in the face of judicial rulings absolving the tobacco industry for all the smoking Cippolone did after health warnings appeared in 1965. That took away two of the plaintiff attorney's key arguments and required him to show that the company bore more than 50 per cent of the responsibility.

 Recognizing that lawsuits in many other jurisdictions will not have to face these obstacles, that the tide of public opinion concerning smoking has changed dramatically since most of the earlier cases were lost, and that most of the expense of obtaining the key documents will not have to be repeated in future suits, many experienced litigators are already gearing up for more cases and more victories.

They don't really care on which legal counts the case was won because they know that plaintiffs are awarded the same amount if you win on one count or 10; that most verdicts are compromises, with all jurors often not agreeing on any one claim; that documents detailing a deliberate cover-up and conspiracy inevitably affect jurors even if they don't admit it and that verdicts in the initial breakthrough cases are often small.

Injuries and deaths caused by consumer products, even when the risks are plain, often involve responsibility by both the victim and the manufacturer; the victim assumed certain risks, but the company failed to make the product safer or to issue more effective warnings. Thus in case after case - of power tools, electrical appliances and even step ladders - grieving families have long been allowed to recover a fair share of their losses.

Without such recoveries, manufacturers would have little incentive to reduce accidents by moderating advertising, providing more specific and effective warnings or making the product less dangerous.

Similarly, many of the medical and other costs would be unfairly borne by taxpayers (through social security, medicare and welfare payments) and other third parties (such as health insurance companies) rather than by the company that profits from the sale.

Indeed, cigarette companies make such obscene profits largely because, unlike most other manufacturers, they have not been forced to pay their fair share of the cost of the deaths and disabilities that their products cause. These costs, estimated to be more than $100 billion each year, are now largely borne by non-smokers in the form of higher taxes and higher insurance premiums.

Thus the effect of these lawsuits is to shift some of the enormous costs of smoking from non-smokers to the industry, which in turn will be forced to charge smokers more.

Such increased prices have been shown to reduce smoking primarily among two groups: children, who are the innocent victims and often find themselves hooked before they are old enough to understand and appreciate a health warning; and members of the lower classes, who are the most resistant to educational campaigns and social pressures to quit smoking.

If cigarette companies are not held liable - or, alternatively, if much higher taxes approximating the economic costs of smoking are not imposed - all of society is forced to bear these enormous costs. In addition, one out of every four smokers will be killed by smoking. Their families and society will suffer, and the tobacco companies will keep getting richer.

Smokers will pay

Requiring cigarette companies to pay their fair share for these deaths and disabilities will force smokers to bear the costs of their own addiction, help provide some compensation to their families when their smoking kills them and deter smoking among the two most vulnerable groups by using the forces of the marketplace rather than governmental intervention.

Society will be better off, non-smokers will save, and smokers' families will receive some compensation when a wage earner dies. Only the cigarette companies will lose - which is why they are spending so much to persuade you that lawsuits against them are a bad idea and that they still haven't lost one.

* John F. Banzhaf III, a professor of law at George Washington University, is the executive director and chief counsel of Action on Smoking and Health.

 ProQuest document ID: 473815191

Text Word Count 807

Former smoker can't afford lawsuit:[FIN Edition]

(CP).  Toronto Star.  Toronto, Ont.:Jul 7, 1988.  p. A9 

VANCOUVER (CP) - Roger Perron, who is suing a Canadian tobacco manufacturer after losing both legs as the result of a smoking- related disease, says the suit may be delayed because he cannot pay his legal bills.

The suit against RJR-MacDonald Inc. marks the first time in Canada that a tobacco company has been sued for damages related to diseases suffered by smokers, said Perron's lawyer, Russell Stanton.

Perron said he "won't let the action die, but it may take years now, because I can only pay so much each month."

He added that he is not eligible for legal aid and he has not negotiated a contingency fee deal with his lawyer.

The suit was filed last month in British Columbia Supreme Court.

Perron, 35, a former heavy equipment operator, suffers from Berger's disease, also known as smoker's leg. The ailment narrows the arteries in the leg, often resulting in amputation.

"I'm getting a lot of support from a lot of people, but none of it financial," Perron said.

"I'm not the only one with Berger's disease or cancer, and if we do set a precedent with this case, it will help thousands of others."

Perron says he smoked for 15 years before he was struck with the disease.

After his left leg was amputated in 1980, Perron continued to smoke until his right leg was amputated three years later.

ProQuest document ID: 473891161



Amputee wins first round against tobacco firm; [3* Edition]

 KAYCE WHITE. The Vancouver Sun. Vancouver, B.C.: Feb 3, 1990.

A Vancouver man who claims he lost both legs through a vascular disease connected with cigarette smoking will go to court next January in the first stage of an action for damages against an international tobacco company.

B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed Friday an appeal by the R.J.R. Macdonald Inc. that argued Roger Perron had waited too long to start legal action in which he claims the company had a duty to warn him about the health hazards of cigarettes.

According to his statement of claim, Perron, 38, began smoking Export cigarettes at age 13 and at age 24 began to suffer pain and loss of circulation in his legs.

After his left leg was amputated four years later, an autopsy showed he suffered Buerger's Disease, known medically as thromboangiitis obliterans (TAO), a disease linked to young men who smoke. TAO blocks circulation to hands and legs and amputation may be necessary if smoking is not stopped.

Although Perron's doctor advised him to quit smoking, he claims he was addicted to Macdonald's cigarettes and continued to smoke until his right leg was amputated in 1983. He then stopped smoking and the disease has since remained dormant and his health has improved.

Perron alleges Macdonald's was negligent in failing to test and research the risk of tobacco use; failing to warn users of the hazards of tobacco, especially in connection with Buerger's Disease and failing to warn users that cigarette smoking was addictive, causing physical and psychological dependency.

Perron's action against Macdonald was started June 20, 1988, claiming the cause of action began in 1976 when Perron began to suffer pain and loss of circulation in his legs. Ordinarily, a two-year limitation on damage suits would have expired in 1978.

Lawyers for Macdonald argued the two-year limit would have expired two years before Perron began legal action.

In dismissing the appeal, the court said the principal question is whether Macdonald's had a duty to warn Perron, between 1980 and 1984, of the dangers of smoking to victims of Buerger's Disease.

A trial date has been set for Jan. 21, 1991.


Amputee waited too long to sue, court rules: But ex-smoker vows to fight on; [1* Edition]

Lora Grindlay. The Province. Vancouver, B.C.: Mar 25, 1993.

A legless man won't stop his fight against the tobacco company he blames for the loss of his limbs.

A B.C. Supreme Court judgment released this week says Roger Perron waited too long before filing a writ against the RJRMacDonald tobacco company in 1988.

Justice Raymond Cooper ruled thatPerron, 40, should have filed his case within two years after his second leg wasamputated in 1983.

Perron lost his legs due to Buerger's disease, a condition that causes the narrowing of arteries in the leg and cuts off circulation.

He smoked a pack of Export A a day for 17 years and continued to smoke after his first leg was amputated in 1980. He kicked the habit using acupuncture in late 1983.

Cooper said: "It seems unlikely that a reasonable man, given the plaintiff's injuries and his knowledge of their cause, would not have made legal inquiries prior to 1987 (when he first consulted a lawyer)."

But yesterday Perron said he was anything but reasonable following the loss of his legs.

"I was a basket case," he said. "I lost my legs and everything else on top of that."

The East Vancouver single father told his lawyer, Russell Stanton, to appeal the decision. He wants the company to pay for not warning him about the dangers of tobacco.

He said he continued smoking through his disease because he was an addict and a "non-believer" about the consequences.

"I'm not proud of it but we have to protect our children," he said.

Stanton said Perron had no chance of winning his case until 1988, a year after a precedent-setting case against a tobacco company in the U.S. "It's a developing area of the law."

 ProQuest document ID: 231285581

 


[ Provinces could follow Buerger's disease victim Roger... ]

Brad Evenson, Southam Newspapers. CanWest News. Don Mills, Ont.: Jul 2, 1997.

OTTAWA - In 1979, a Yellowknife apprentice mechanic named Roger Perron noticed his left leg had gone numb as he installed a muffler.

He shook it, but the numbness stayed. Then he poked it a few times. The next sensation was a thousand stabbing needles.

The pain gripped him 24 hours a day. It was so agonizing Perron would wake up shrieking no matter what kind of painkillers he swallowed.

His leg began to swell until the flesh burst apart like soft grapefruit. In October 1979, doctors amputated the leg. An autopsy on the severed limb found Perron had Buerger's disease, an inflammation of blood vessels most common in men under 45 who smoke.

Perron, 28, had smoked Export A brand cigarettes for 15 years. A pack a day.

He was so addicted he could not quit, even after doctors were forced to cut off his gangrenous right leg in 1982.

"I lost everything," he says.

By then, he was strung out on painkillers, uppers, downers, Smirnoff vodka. When Perron was fired, his wife took their infant son and fled. "They were scared of me," he says today. "I guess I was kind of insane."

When Perron got around to pulling his life together, he visited Vancouver lawyer Russell Stanton to straighten out a disability insurance claim. Stanton asked him how he lost his legs.

Until then, no Canadian had ever sued a tobacco company for damages. But Stanton had studied U.S. lawsuits carefully and subscribed to a legal newsletter on tobacco issues; a week before, he had read that a New Jersey court awarded a cancer victim's family $400,000 US.

"I thought, `What the hell?' " says Stanton, knowing Perron was so broke he'd have to cover his own costs.

"This was my chance to be a thorn in the tobacco industry's side."

In 1988, Roger Perron became the first Canadian to sue a tobacco company, Export manufacturer RJR-Macdonald, for damages. Stanton became a lone, legal thorn.

Soon, he may have plenty of company.

Proposed changes to British Columbia law, and changes under consideration across Canada, would allow new, statistical evidence to be admitted into court, and would supply provincial money to fund class-action lawsuits against cigarette makers. Although it still faces some significant hurdles in the U.S. Congress, a $368-billion US pact reached last week between tobacco companies, state attorneys general and lawyers for ill smokers is bound to galvanize efforts in Canada to construct a similar deal.

"You've got a basic shift in the public's attitudes about the culpability of the tobacco industry," says Eric LeGresley, legal counsel for the Non-Smokers' Rights Association.

B.C. Premier Glen Clark was more blunt: "I am declaring war on the tobacco companies."

Government officials in Saskatchewan, Atlantic Canada and Ontario have expressed an interest in pursuing legal options against Big Tobacco. And Health Canada lawyers are looking into how the federal government could "quarterback" these provincial attacks. "The minister (Allan Rock) is meeting with the provinces in September, and he wants to know what the legal options are," said a department lawyer.

The federal government has never before joined the provinces in a class-action lawsuit, although it has intervened on behalf of women seeking compensation for breast implant damages from the liability fund set aside by U.S. corporation Dow Corning Inc.

In Ontario, four smokers launched a class-action suit in 1995 against tobacco companies on behalf of more than 2.4 million Ontario smokers. The case is dragging slowly toward a courtroom.

But such glacial progress adds to significant debate over spending untold millions on taking Canada's big three tobacco companies - Imperial Tobacco Ltd., Rothmans Benson & Hedges and RJR- Macdonald Inc. - to court. Is this the best way to collect the estimated $7.2 billion in the unrecovered health costs of smoking- related illnesses? "There is likely to be at least 10 years of litigation before anybody sees a penny," says LeGresley.

Perron's case is a perfect example. After 42 court applications over seven years, Stanton never got to argue his case on its merits; the case was thrown out because Perron waited too long after losing his legs to seek justice.

"It was ridiculous," says Stanton.

Now they are poised to return to court, since B.C.'s proposed legal changes would dump the statute of limitations on tobacco lawsuits. And after years of footing his own bills, the B.C. government could even cover some of Stanton's costs.

B.C. also wants to impose license fees on tobacco companies, a policy favored by anti-smoking groups because it extracts money without a lengthy court battle. LeGresley says this isn't another tax "because the companies would pay their assigned license fee whether the products were legally sold or contraband, they would have no incentive, as they have had in the past, to facilitate smuggling."

In fact, companies would pass on license costs in their prices, so they would actually try to stamp out tobacco smuggling.

Canada's tobacco industry says the B.C. legislation is rooted in such U.S.-based concerns as allegations the industry targets children in its advertising, a concern for which there is foundation.

Secret documents released by Imperial Tobacco Ltd. and RJR- MacDonald in 1987 during their Supreme Court challenge of Canada's tobacco-ad ban show teens are their key market. Only about 10 per cent of smokers switch brands every year. An Imperial marketing document said: "If the last 10 years have taught us anything, it is that the industry is dominated by the companies who respond most effectively to the needs of young smokers."

The federal government's latest tobacco ad laws, Bill C-71, which limits tobacco sponsorship at sports and cultural events, now may face a legal challenge from the industry. In the meantime, a growing segment of youth is lighting up, a painful sight to Roger Perron.

Perron quit smoking with acupuncture treatments in 1982, and after several years, regained custody of his only son, a teenager who recently took up smoking.

"Now he's starting to get addicted," says Perron gloomily.

"He does it behind my back, but I know. His girlfriend smokes. He does it to be cool.

"And that just kills me."

ProQuest document ID: 329474501



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