Two Canadian provinces set to sue tobacco industry
VANCOUVER, May 15 (Reuters) - The province of British Columbia relaunched its effort to try to collect health costs from the tobacco industry on Monday, and said Newfoundland will become the second Canadian province to go after cigarette makers in court.
British Columbia's New Democratic Party government reintroduced legislation authorising a lawsuit against the industry on Monday. The revised legislation lacks several provisions that were struck down earlier this year in a legal challenge by cigarette makers.
British Columbia was the first Canadian province to go to court against the industry with a lawsuit modelled on those launched by more than 40 U.S. states. It said Newfoundland will also use its revised legislation as a model for its own suit.
``B.C. and Newfoundland will be working closely together in pursing health care cost recovery litigation and we hope other provincial and territorial governments will soon join us.'' Health Minister Mike Farnworth told the provincial legislature in Victoria.
The tobacco industry denounced the previous lawsuit as a ``cash grab''. The industry said it is willing to work with the province on reducing youth smoking but it will not pay for the cost of treating smoking-related illnesses.
The first lawsuit did not seek a specific amount in damages but British Columbia has estimated it spends C$2 billion ($1.3 billion) each year treating both direct and indirect diseases related to tobacco use.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge in February ruled the province overstepped its constitutional authority in the law authorising the first lawsuit because it tried to seek damages from the Canadian cigarette makers' international parent companies.
The judge upheld the province's right to sue the Canadian companies.