Health and Community Services
February 8, 2011
Tobacco Health Care Costs Recovery Act Proclaimed
In an effort to recover the costs of tobacco-related illnesses and highlight the misrepresentation of tobacco companies, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is moving forward with the proclamation of the Tobacco Health Care Costs Recovery Act. The act allows legal action against tobacco companies by permitting the Provincial Government to sue tobacco companies directly.
“We now have entrenched in our provincial statutes the mechanisms by which we can attempt to recover the health-related costs associated with tobacco use,” said the Honourable Felix Collins, Minister of Justice and Attorney General. “By proclaiming this piece of legislation we want to expose tobacco companies for misrepresenting the harm associated with their products. Through this action, it is also our hope consumers and potential consumers of tobacco will be fully aware of the misrepresentation by tobacco companies, so that they will think twice before deciding to start or to continue smoking.”
The Tobacco Health Care Costs Recovery Act was passed by the House of Assembly in 2001. In recent years, the province has been monitoring other jurisdictions with similar legislation, has learned from their experiences and has now had the required amount of time necessary to build a strong case.
Along with proclaiming the act, the Provincial Government has now filed a statement of claim against the tobacco industry. The action is seeking the recovery of costs associated with health care services provided to individuals who have suffered with tobacco-related diseases, as well as the future health-related costs to the province. The cost of the legal proceedings to the province is also being sought in the statement of claim.
“Tobacco use costs the province several hundred million dollars annually in both direct health care costs and indirect costs including productivity lost due to illness and premature death,” said the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services. “The proclamation of this legislation will enhance our current efforts and help alleviate the costs associated with tobacco consumption while holding the tobacco industry accountable for its actions.”
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death and is attributable to lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease. The Provincial Government has implemented a comprehensive tobacco control strategy that includes public education, community and school-based programs, cessation programs and services, smoke-free legislation and tax policy. These programs and policies have had a significant impact, as youth smoking rates have been cut in half in the past decade and adult smoking rates have declined. In addition, the public’s exposure to secondhand smoke has been significantly reduced and restrictions are in place regarding how tobacco can be displayed and stored at retail locations.
“The proclamation of this legislation has been a long time in the making and we are committed to seeing the legal action through to recovery,” added Minister Collins. “The devastating effects of tobacco use on the health and well-being of individuals have been widely documented, so we aim to hold these tobacco companies accountable for their misrepresentation and the resulting negative health impacts their products have had in Newfoundland and Labrador.”The Provincial Government has retained the services of local law firm Roebothan McKay Marshall, who will be provided with foreign legal advice from Humphrey, Farrington and McClain of Independence, Missouri, experts in tobacco litigation.
- 30 -
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
2011 02 08 11:10 a.m.