Province to sue tobacco manufacturers

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.


  1. I must say that this is another sign of the unwillingness of people to accept responsibility for the decisions they make and the lifestyles they choose to lead. I know that the province ends up bearing the cost of people’s poor decision-making in increased health care dollars, but I think pinning the costs on the companies that make the products and putting none of the responsibility on the users seems excessive.

    What’s next, a class-action lawsuit against all fastfood chains for selling food to people who then became fat? I can see the text of the lawsuit now – you failed to put warning labels that consuming four hamburgers, two large fries and a diet pop would make them fat and more susceptible to obesity, heart disease, etc, and lead to increased provincial health care costs. All the class-action lawyers are salivating (metaphor intentionally placed) for this case to finish so they can go after fast food chains next.

    I heard about a lawsuit in the US where a lawyer sued a casino for taking her life savings because they let her gamble her money away for days on end. I’m not sure if that one was ever heard or thrown out of court, but what happened to accepting personal responsibility for not making wise choices? Did the blackjack dealer hold a gun to her head?

    I know that the issue is more complicated than I am making it out to be when you look at studies that said smoking wasn’t bad for your health. But I do know for certain that if we told people they couldn’t smoke two packs a day and were not allowed to buy the four hamburgers and fries, there would be a civil suit saying that they had been discriminated against hit the courts tomorrow.

  2. my opinion only…it is just another way to get money from the taxpayer that is where it is all going to come down to, alcohol causes crashes, which in turn causes long turn medical expenses. That will be next..etc..etc…etc…lalala./. They use being a smoker very loosely in the medical field these days..If you are a smoker, that is why you are sick, period…don’t bother going to doctor..that is why I don’t. I will die at home..period..No one will look down at me because I smoke.. That is what the province has made everyone do now. Meanwhile everone hides it. you see them driving down the road with the cigarette dangling out the window so they can say they don’t smoke in their car… opinion only..

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