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Cigarette lawsuits are hypocritical

by admin October 7, 2009

Cigarette lawsuits are hypocritical

by Archives October 6, 2009

Quebec’s provincial government announced it will be filing a lawsuit against tobacco companies in a bid to recuperate the health care costs associated with cigarette use. The province plans to sue a consortium of tobacco companies, including Montreal’s Imperial Tobacco. Quebec’s announcement comes less than one week after the Ontario government filed a similar suit seeking $50 billion. These lawsuits are biased and hypocritical.
The trend of suing tobacco companies for health care costs started in the United States in the mid-90s when all 50 states came together to seek damages from American tobacco companies. The states and the tobacco companies eventually came to a settlement in which the states would receive $246 billion US over 25 years.
In Canada, the first province to try to take on Big Tobacco to task was British Columbia. In 1998, B.C. passed the Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, which allowed the government to seek damages from tobacco companies. Nova Scotia became the second province to launch a suit. Ontario and Quebec are the third and fourth.
Even though the provinces already collect billions of dollars a year in “sin’ taxes, they are now unilaterally changing the rules of the game to get their hands on more money. Not only will the cost of these lawsuits will be borne by smokers rather than the tobacco companies themselves, but taxpayers will have to foot the bill for what could very likely be a long and expensive trial.
The government is constantly attacking the rights of cigarette makers, vendors and smokers, while they operate near-monopolies in other realms of vice like gambling and spirits. Sure, cigarettes cause lung cancer and a handful of other ailments, but liquor and gambling destroy lives and tear families apart. People don’t lose their houses because they spent too much money at the tobacconist, nobody beats a spouse because they smoked too many cigarettes the night before. It seems strange that the government would attack such a passive hobby while simultaneously encouraging two others that are far more destructive.
Moreover, if we’re going to talk about health costs that need to be recuperated, tobacco is hardly the only villain. The government isn’t suing fast food companies, despite the fact that their fare is creating an obesity epidemic. The government isn’t suing car companies, whose products pollute the very air we breath. Cigarettes and smokers have become nothing more than easy targets for politicians who want to look like they’re doing something; politicians who want to seem like they care about society.
The free choices of adults should not be subjected to someone else’s moral code. Besides, the federal and provincial governments already collect billions in tax revenues from cigarette sales as it is. The government, provincial or otherwise, needs to focus on governing, not dictating the choices of citizens.

Quebec’s provincial government announced it will be filing a lawsuit against tobacco companies in a bid to recuperate the health care costs associated with cigarette use. The province plans to sue a consortium of tobacco companies, including Montreal’s Imperial Tobacco. Quebec’s announcement comes less than one week after the Ontario government filed a similar suit seeking $50 billion. These lawsuits are biased and hypocritical.
The trend of suing tobacco companies for health care costs started in the United States in the mid-90s when all 50 states came together to seek damages from American tobacco companies. The states and the tobacco companies eventually came to a settlement in which the states would receive $246 billion US over 25 years.
In Canada, the first province to try to take on Big Tobacco to task was British Columbia. In 1998, B.C. passed the Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, which allowed the government to seek damages from tobacco companies. Nova Scotia became the second province to launch a suit. Ontario and Quebec are the third and fourth.
Even though the provinces already collect billions of dollars a year in ‘sin’ taxes, they are now unilaterally changing the rules of the game to get their hands on more money. Not only will the cost of these lawsuits will be borne by smokers rather than the tobacco companies themselves, but taxpayers will have to foot the bill for what could very likely be a long and expensive trial.
The government is constantly attacking the rights of cigarette makers, vendors and smokers, while they operate near-monopolies in other realms of vice like gambling and spirits. Sure, cigarettes cause lung cancer and a handful of other ailments, but liquor and gambling destroy lives and tear families apart. People don’t lose their houses because they spent too much money at the tobacconist, nobody beats a spouse because they smoked too many cigarettes the night before. It seems strange that the government would attack such a passive hobby while simultaneously encouraging two others that are far more destructive.
Moreover, if we’re going to talk about health costs that need to be recuperated, tobacco is hardly the only villain. The government isn’t suing fast food companies, despite the fact that their fare is creating an obesity epidemic. The government isn’t suing car companies, whose products pollute the very air we breath. Cigarettes and smokers have become nothing more than easy targets for politicians who want to look like they’re doing something; politicians who want to seem like they care about society.
The free choices of adults should not be subjected to someone else’s moral code. Besides, the federal and provincial governments already collect billions in tax revenues from cigarette sales as it is. The government, provincial or otherwise, needs to focus on governing, not dictating the choices of citizens.

Breakdown of the costs of a carton

$20.42 Provincial tax
$20.00 Federal tax
$5.70 Cost of production
$1.70 GST
$22.48 Profit

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