By Morinville News Staff
Edmonton – The Alberta government is looking for $10 billion from big tobacco, money it says will recover the $10 billion in health care costs associated with smoking-related illnesses.
“Tobacco use has had a devastating impact on many generations of Albertans,” said Premier Alison Redford in a release Wednesday. “The costs are not just to our health care system, but in the many lives cut short by the use of tobacco. This legal action is a significant part of renewing our tobacco reduction strategy.”
According to the release, the province has retained Tobacco Recovery Lawyers LLP (a consortium of law firms) since June 2011 to file the lawsuit on its behalf.
Alberta is the latest in a long line of Canadian provinces to take on the tobacco industry. B.C., New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario have already initiated litigation against tobacco manufacturers, and it is expected Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec will soon file similar lawsuits.
The Crown’s Right of Recovery Act received Royal Assent Nov. 26, 2009. It allows government to take direct legal action against tobacco manufacturers to recover health care costs the province has incurred as a result of the industry’s actions. The act takes effect May 31.
Minister of Health Fred Horne said more than 3,000 Albertans die from tobacco-caused diseases each year. “As part of our focus on wellness and keeping Albertans healthy, we will be renewing our tobacco reduction strategy to further decrease smoking rates, reduce exposure to second-hand smoke and providing more support to people who want to quit using tobacco,” he said. The province is set to release its renewed tobacco reduction strategy in June.