September 29, 2009 - Ontario Sues Tobacco Companies for $50 Billion

The Canadian province of Ontario announced Tuesday it is suing several tobacco companies for $50 billion to recover medical expenses it has paid.

The province alleges the costs of care date back to 1955 and smoking-related care now costs it $1.6 billion each year, the Toronto Star reported. The suit claims tobacco use is responsible for killing 36 people in Ontario each day, or 13,000 per year.

Earlier this year, the province passed the Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, becoming the fifth province to use legislation to back their lawsuits.

British Columbia was the first to enact a similar law in 2000 and legal wrangling took five years before the Supreme Court upheld it, the Canwest News Service reported.

The other provinces attempting to recover healthcare costs are Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Quebec is also drafting such a bill, Canwest said.

There was no immediate response to the suit from any tobacco companies Tuesday.

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