$27-billion lawsuit against tobacco companies launched
12 March 2012
Montreal, QC -
An important day for justice, truth and health of Quebecers, according to the Canadian Cancer Society
Today, the largest lawsuit ever undertaken in Quebec and Canada was launched in Montreal. Two class actions are being brought before the Quebec Superior Court against tobacco companies in an effort to seek compensation for the victims of their harmful products. This is an important day for health and truth; unfortunately, however, Quebec remains one of the provinces where the proportion of young smokers is highest.
“We applaud the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health, one of the plaintiffs, for its efforts and hard work over the past 13 years. The trial, which begins today, is historic. It will attempt to establish responsibility with regard to the damage caused to the health of people in Quebec,” states Jean-Daniel Hamelin, Director of Public Affairs for the Canadian Cancer Society – Quebec Division. “Our objective is to ensure that the truth comes out and justice is done for the thousands of people who have suffered due to their addiction or who have died as a result of it.”
In addition to seeking compensation for the victims of the tobacco industry, the trial provides an excellent opportunity to find out the truth about tobacco companies’ knowledge and conduct. Internal and secret documents are expected to be presented as evidence by tobacco manufacturers, thus providing an opportunity to shed light on the many deceptive tactics employed by this unscrupulous industry.
“In Quebec, we’ve had a longstanding and major problem with tobacco, which has cost tens of thousands of lives. Until now, tobacco companies didn’t recognize any responsibility for their products’ devastating effects,” points out Mélanie Champagne, a tobacco policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society – Quebec Division. “Tobacco manufacturers must be held accountable for their actions, and legal proceedings provide a key opportunity to bring about a fundamental change in this industry’s business practices.”
According to the CCS, tobacco control is a critical issue since an estimated 30% of cancer deaths and 85% of lung cancer cases are due to smoking. Also, as mentioned in the lawsuit, smoking is a recognized cause of throat and laryngeal cancer. In addition, smoking may also cause colorectal, pharyngeal, tongue, esophageal, stomach, kidney, bladder, cervical, lower urinary tract, and pancreatic cancer. Moreover, recent data suggest a link between smoking and breast cancer.
The harmful effects of smoking in our lives
- There are still over 1.5 million smokers in Quebec, and unfortunately 28% of youths in the province (aged 20 to 34) are addicted to smoking.
- 90 youths in Quebec will take up smoking today — 33,000 this year. For each person who quits smoking or dies, another person takes it up.
- Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death. Every day, 28 people in Quebec die from causes directly linked to smoking — over 10,000 every year. One out of two regular smokers dies from tobacco-related disease.
- In 2011, a third of cancer-related deaths in Quebec were due to lung cancer: 8,500 people in Quebec received a diagnosis of lung cancer and 6,700 died as a result of the disease.
- In Quebec, lung cancer kills twice as many women as breast cancer and nearly four and a half times as many men as prostate cancer.
- Since the early 1990s, the mortality rate for lung cancer has dropped by 29% among men, but it has increased by 40% among women.
- Annual health spending in Quebec on tobacco-related diseases is estimated at over $1 billion; other related social costs – including loss of productivity, prevention programs, and fires – are estimated at approximately $3 billion.
- Smoking-related diseases are responsible for about a third (32.6%) of full-day hospital stays in Quebec’s major hospital centres.
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 www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.