Ontario Newsroom

Working To Recover Tobacco Health Costs

Archived News Release

Working To Recover Tobacco Health Costs

McGuinty Government Takes First Step Towards Suing Tobacco Companies For Damages

Ministry of the Attorney General

Ontario has introduced new legislation that would, if passed, allow the government to sue tobacco companies for alleged wrongdoing to recover past and ongoing health care costs borne by Ontario taxpayers due to tobacco-related illness.

The proposed legislation would:

  • Allow Ontario to directly sue tobacco companies for alleged wrongdoing
  • Allow for the recovery of past, present and ongoing tobacco-related damages
  • Create a method to determine health care cost damages incurred by taxpayers arising from tobacco-related illnesses
  • Establish the burden of proof required to link exposure to tobacco products to Tobacco-related disease
  • Allocate liability among tobacco companies by market share.

British Columbia and New Brunswick have already passed legislation and initiated lawsuits against tobacco companies to recover health care costs. Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have also passed health care cost recovery legislation.

The Ontario government is a national leader in tobacco control initiatives through its comprehensive Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy, part of its commitment to a healthier Ontario.

Quick Facts

  • Smoking is the number one cause of premature death and illness in Ontario, accounting for the deaths of approximately 13,000 Ontarians each year. That's 36 deaths a day.
  • The Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy includes one of the toughest laws in North America to protect people from second-hand smoke in restaurants, bars, offices, schools, day care centres and hospitals.
  • Ontario is receiving $156.9 million from tobacco companies as part of a settlement related to the smuggling of contraband cigarettes across the Canada-US border during the 1990s.

Additional Resources


“Smoking hurts Ontarians and our health care system. This legislation would allow the government to sue tobacco companies for alleged wrongdoing in order to recover taxpayer dollars spent to fight tobacco-related illnesses.”

Chris Bentley

Attorney General

“At over $1.6 billion annually, Ontario's tobacco-related health care costs affect all Ontarians. This legislation, if passed, would provide our government with an avenue to address a costly drain on the health care system we all depend upon.”

David Caplan

Minister of Health and Long-Term Care



Health and Wellness Law and Safety