Nunavut to sue tobacco companies
The government of Nunavut plans to sue big tobacco companies for health-care costs associated with smoking.
Nunavut Justice Minister Keith Peterson says tobacco is the territory's major addiction and its harmful effects are no secret.
"We're just fed up with seeing what's happening up here in terms of the harm," Peterson said.
Although every province has launched or plans to launch similar lawsuits, Peterson said the territory's actions will "take some time" as officials begin the research stage of the process.
"Medical records could go back to the 1950s, 1960s," he said. "We have to do a lot of that kind of work, in preparation for, eventually, going into a court action."
The justice minister maintains the action is not about money, but about making tobacco companies — which misled people on smoking's dangers — atone by educating and dissuading youth from lighting up.
Peterson is pushing for a national effort among the provinces and territories, hoping for a similar result to that achieved in the U.S., where state governments received a huge payout.
Douglas Lennox, a Toronto lawyer who has been involved with tobacco-related lawsuits, agreed that there is strength in numbers.
"All provinces, all territories, need to move forward now," Lennox said, "If a national resolution is to be achieved it has to be clear that the industry is going to be facing litigation in every jurisdiction."