The Canadian province of Ontario yesterday filed a lawsuit against several tobacco companies seeking C$50 billion ($45.9 billion) to recover smoking-related medical expenses it has paid since 1955.
The tobacco companies named in the suit include US tobacco giants, Reynolds American, Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco PLC and Japan Tobacco Inc.
The lawsuit filed by Ontario government in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice under the Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act of 2009, alleges that tobacco companies have known since 1950 that their products were addictive and could cause disease, and it was also known by 1970 that second-hand smoke was dangerous to human health.
''Knowing that cigarettes were addictive and would cause and contribute to disease, the tobacco companies intentionally inflicted harm on persons in Ontario by manufacturing, promoting and selling cigarettes for profit and in disregard of public health,'' the lawsuit says.
''The taxpayers of the province of Ontario have paid a lot of money for health care costs directly related to tobacco use over the decades. We believe the taxpayers should be compensated for the costs that they have paid.'' Chris Bentley, the province's attorney general, said in a statement in Toronto.
He added that although tobacco is a legal product in Ontario, the cost of treating tobacco related diseases was nothing near to the taxes collected from tobacco sales.