October 27, 2010 - Alberta Minister of Justice Alison Redford made the announcement Monday, October 25th that Alberta would become the fourth Canadian province to initiate litigation against big tobacco.
Background: Our news brief dated November 24, 2009 indicated that Alberta had joined Ontario, British Columbia (B.C.), Quebec and New Brunswick as provinces that have passed similar legislation allowing them to sue tobacco companies for health-care costs associated with tobacco-related diseases..
At this time Les Hagen, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health, applauded the move, adding: "The Alberta government now has a tremendous opportunity to help offset the rising costs of health care while holding the tobacco industry accountable for its actions." Hagen also encouraged the government to launch a lawsuit as soon as possible.
Alberta joins some other provinces in suing tobacco companies..
Redford: "We are confident this action is the right thing to do. Some of the most costly illnesses to treat, such as cancer and heart disease, are caused by smoking," Redford told MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) during the first day of the legislature's fall session. "The litigation we plan to commence will seek to share this burden with the manufacturers of this product." Redford said she hasn't determined the value of Alberta's claim, saying only that it would be "a substantial amount of money."
But Hagen noted Ontario's lawsuit, filed last year, is seeking $50 billion from tobacco companies -- roughly the amount that province estimates it has spent on providing health care to smokers since the 1950s. "Based on that, proportionally Alberta's statement of claim should be at least $10 billion," he said. He suggested any settlement or judgment should include not just a monetary award, but also harsher restrictions on how tobacco products are sold and marketed.
Redford said Alberta's lawsuit should be filed within a year, but it's unclear how long the case could take or whether it will even see a courtroom. British Columbia, after nearly a decade of legal wrangling, is set to proceed with a trial next year. Some experts believe a successful outcome for the province in that case could force the tobacco industry to the settlement table with other provinces.
British Columbia, after nearly a decade of legal wrangling, is set to proceed with a trial next year. Some experts believe a successful outcome for the province in that case could force the tobacco industry to the settlement table with other provinces.
Redford: "We believe it's important for Alberta to begin this process now so that we're able to file our statement of claim and work collectively and jointly with other provinces to set the litigation strategy."
Reference: Billions at stake in Alta. tobacco lawsuit Province seeks to recover health-care costs by Keith Gerein, Edmonton Journal, 10/26/2010