Canada: Quebec court orders 3 tobacco firms to pay CA$15.5 billion over failure to warn plaintiffs of health impacts of smoking

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Article
2 June 2015

Tobacco firms to pay billions in damages in Canada

Author: BBC News

A Canadian court has ordered three tobacco companies to pay C$15.5bn (£8bn; $12bn)…The plaintiffs were Quebec smokers who said the firms failed to warn them of health risks associated with smoking…The class-action lawsuits were filed in 1998, but only recently went to trial in the courts. The firms argued that Canadians have had a "high awareness" of smoking health risks since the 1950s…But the plaintiffs argued that the companies did not properly warn their customers and failed in their general duty "not to cause injury to another person", according to the Quebec Superior Court decision…"If the companies are allowed to walk away unscathed now, what would be the message to other industries that today or tomorrow find themselves in a similar moral conflict?"[said Judge Riordan][Refers to Imperial Tobacco Canada, JTI-MacDonald, Rothmans Benson & Hedges (part of Philip Morris International)]

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Article
2 June 2015

Tobacco giants vow to fight Canadian judgment handing C$15bn to smokers

Author: Jennifer Rankin, Guardian (UK)

Three tobacco companies are appealing against a “historic” decision by a Canadian court to award smokers C$15.6bn (£8.2bn) in damages…Bruce Johnston, a lawyer with one of the firms that took on the tobacco companies, called the ruling “historic – not just for the compensation for victims but also for public health and accountability”. More than a million smokers and former smokers in Quebec were seeking damages, on the grounds that the companies knew they were selling a harmful product but concealed the risks. The case covered two groups of plaintiffs: those who became seriously ill from smoking and those who said they could not quit…Imperial Tobacco Canada said the judgment “ignores the reality that both adult consumers and governments have known about the risks associated with smoking for decades”…JTI-Macdonald said…“The company strongly believes that the evidence presented at trial does not justify the court’s conclusions.”…[Refers to Imperial Tobacco Canada, JTI-MacDonald, Rothmans Benson & Hedges (part of Philip Morris International)]

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