EDMONTON - The Alberta government is set to launch one of the largest
legal actions in the province's history, a $10-billion lawsuit against
the tobacco industry to recover decades worth of smoking-related health
Premier Alison Redford said the province is
finalizing the statement of claim, which is expected to be filed within
the next two weeks.
"Tobacco use has had a devastating impact on
many generations of Albertans. The costs are not just to our health-care
system, but in the many lives cut short by the use of tobacco," Redford
said in a statement. "This legal action is a significant part of
renewing our tobacco reduction strategy."
Redford says Alberta's legal action is part of a renewed tobacco reduction strategy to be released next month.
The aim is to prevent tobacco use by youth, protect people from second-hand smoke and support those who want to quit.
will be the fifth province to file suit against Big Tobacco, joining
British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The remaining five province have signalled their intention to also file
None of those cases has proceeded to trial or reached a
settlement, and Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis acknowledged
Alberta's action could take many years to resolve.
Several of the
provinces have united by hiring the same law firm to represent them.
Alberta has hired its own legal representatives, known as Tobacco
Recovery Lawyers LLP, but Health Minister Fred Horne said the decision
to have separate counsel does not mean Alberta will avoid collaborating
with the other provinces. He said the lawsuit will attempt to recover
health costs dating back to the 1950s.
About 3,000 Albertans die each year from tobacco-related illnesses.