Canadian Cancer Society applauds Ontario Superior Court ruling against tobacco industry

06 January 2012

Toronto -

The Ontario Superior Court has ruled that foreign parent tobacco companies must remain as defendants in the Ontario Government’s $50 billion medicare cost-recovery lawsuit against the tobacco industry. This means the Ontario government lawsuit may proceed against foreign tobacco companies in addition to their Canadian subsidiaries. The lawsuit was initially launched in 2009 to recover health care costs due to tobacco-related illnesses, however several of the companies named in the court case applied to be removed from the lawsuit. With this ruling, that application was rejected.

Foreign companies, such as British American Tobacco and Philip Morris International, had brought a motion seeking to be removed as defendants. The ruling on the motion was rendered earlier in the week, and was announced today by Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen.

“This is great news and a significant defeat for the tobacco industry,” says Rob Cunningham, lawyer and Senior Policy Analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society. “The foreign parent tobacco companies had a key role in causing the tobacco epidemic in Canada, including the cover-up of the health effects of smoking. These companies should be held accountable for their actions. Moreover, the foreign companies have the ability to pay the significant damages being sought by Ontario and other provinces.”

All ten provinces, as well as the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, have adopted legislation to facilitate a medicare cost recovery lawsuit against the tobacco industry. Four provinces – British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador – have filed actual lawsuits, while all six remaining provinces as well as Nunavut have announced their intention to file a lawsuit.

Attempts by the foreign companies to be removed as defendants in the British Columbia and New Brunswick lawsuits have previously been dismissed by courts in those provinces.

As part of its mission to eradicate cancer, the Canadian Cancer Society is a leader in advocating for public policies that will provide a healthier future for Canadians. Tobacco control is a key issue for the Society because it is estimated that smoking causes 30% of all cancer deaths and is related to more than 85% of lung cancer cases.

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Rob Cunningham

Senior Policy Analyst

Canadian Cancer Society

National office

Phone: (613) 565-2522 ext 4981