Prince Edward Island is the final Canadian province to propose the law, with similar legislation pending or already in place in all other provinces.
Canadian governments may seek more than CAd 200 billion (EUR 129 billion) in compensation for health-care costs and lost taxes from cigarette smuggling from tobacco companies that include JTI-MacDonald, the Canadian unit of Japan Tobacco Inc., Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. and Rothmans Inc., an Ontario judge said at a hearing in Toronto last month.
“This government made a commitment to introduce this legislation,” Prince Edward Island Attorney General Gerard Greenan said in a statement posted today on the government's Web site. “Essentially, the Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act will allow us to take action against tobacco firms for past health care costs that have resulted from the use of tobacco.”
Prince Edward Island proposed the law so it can bypass its statute of limitations, which wouldn't allow the province to recover costs from harms that occurred more than six years ago. Ontario is attempting to recoup costs from as far back as 55 years ago.
The Prince Edward Island law, similar to most of the other provincial laws, is based on British Columbia's 2000 legislation that has been upheld by Canada's Supreme Court.
“By using British Columbia as a model, we know that the principles of the act have already been tested by this country's highest court,” Greenan said. (pi)