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Ontario Seeks $50 Billion In Tobacco-Related Health Care Costs

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Ontario Seeks $50 Billion In Tobacco-Related Health Care Costs

McGuinty Government Suing Tobacco Manufacturers

Ministry of the Attorney General

Ontario filed a $50 billion lawsuit today against a group of tobacco companies seeking damages for past and ongoing health care costs linked to tobacco-related illness.

The Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, 2009, passed unanimously by the Legislature earlier this year, clarified the rights of the parties involved, and also set the framework for a lawsuit like this.

The legislation:

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

While the legislation clarifies the process, the government still has to prove its allegations in a court of law.

The province's claim was issued today. Under Ontario law, companies must now file their intent to defend:

  • Within 20 days after service if incorporated in this province
  • Within 40 days after service if incorporated elsewhere in Canada and in the United States
  • Within 60 days after service if incorporated in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is seeking $50 billion in damages. This represents the health care costs borne by Ontario taxpayers since 1955.
  • Tobacco-related health care costs currently total more than $1.6 billion per year in Ontario.
  • Smoking is the number one cause of premature death and illness in Ontario, accounting for the deaths of about 13,000 Ontarians each year. That's 36 deaths a day.

Additional Resources


“Ontario is taking the next step towards recovering taxpayer dollars spent fighting tobacco-related illnesses. We are joining British Columbia and New Brunswick in initiating a lawsuit to recover health care costs from tobacco companies.”

Chris Bentley

Attorney General

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