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Billion-dollar compensation for smokers

04 Mar 2019. BAT, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco Inc. have lost an appeal against class-action lawsuits by Canadian smokers, Bloomberg reported.

The Canadian judiciary has confirmed the historic 2015 verdict against three international tobacco companies: The Canadian subsidiaries of BAT, Philip Morris and JTI were sentenced on Friday to pay damages of about CAD 17 billion (EUR 11.24 billion) after losing their appeal to class actions by Quebec smokers, the report said. The Quebec Court of Appeal upheld a lower-court decision with minor changes, according to the ruling released Friday. Smokers had sued for damages for addiction and smoking-related diseases, arguing that they had never been warned of the risks.

“Today’s judgment is disappointing,” Eric Gagnon, head of corporate and regulatory affairs for BAT’s Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. unit, was quoted as saying. According to Bloomberg, they plan to bring the case to the country’s Supreme Court. “The risks associated with smoking have been known in Canada for decades. Consumers were aware and that’s why we think we shouldn’t be held responsible.”

According to the report, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc., the Canadian subsidiary of Philip Morris, also said it plans to appeal. Japan Tobacco said in a company release, that JTI-MacDonald Corp., the other defendant in the cases, “is considering all options”.

“This is a complete and resounding defeat for the tobacco industry,” Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst for the Ottawa-based cancer group, was quoted as saying. The industry “has engaged in decades of wrongful behavior resulting in vast suffering, disease and death.”