Tobacco Litigation In Canada Not Butting Out without a Fight

A recent decision by the British Columbia Court of Appeal has granted Imperial Tobacco Canada Limited (“Imperial”) the right to add the Federal Government of Canada to the class action as a third party for contribution and indemnity in the event Imperial is found liable to the Government of British Columbia for tobacco related health care costs incurred over the years . This judgment reversed a lower court decision, which refused to permit the Federal Government to become a third party defendant to the action.

The Federal Government of Canada is alleged to have played an active role from the early 1900’s onwards in cooperating with the Tobacco industry in researching, developing and engineering ways of producing improved tobacco varieties, which were ultimately sold to consumers despite the fact that scientific evidence linking cancer to smoking were available. It is also alleged that the Feds sponsored research programs relating to tobacco.

According to Donald McCarthy, Imperial’s VP of Law, “The B.C. decision will demonstrate that the Government of Canada has known about the risks associated with smoking for decades and that it instigated and promoted the development and sale of lower-tar tobacco product”. He went on, “the Government of Canada has been a senior partner of the tobacco industry for decades. They have legalized tobacco in Canada, heavily regulated it, and taxed it to the tune of billions of dollars every year”.

Imperial also issued third party claims in the provinces of Newfoundland, Quebec and New Brunswick against the Federal Government of Canada  making certain that the battle over smoking related healthcare litigation is not about to butt out any time soon.

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