A group of Canadian smokers is claiming up to 20 euros billion in damages from three big tobacco companies accusing them of causing their smoking addictions.
In what is thought to be the country’s biggest class action case, the group says it is representing about 1.8 million smokers in Quebec, seeking damages from Imperial Tobacco, JTI MacDonald and Rothmans Benson & Hedges.
“They are sick. They have problems and they want justice for their suffering,” said Mario Bujold from the Quebec Council on Tobacco & Health.
The tobacco giants argue that the dangers of smoking have been well known for decades.
One lawyer has called the case an “opportunistic cash grab.”
“Smoking is something that people choose to do for many reasons and they have to take the
responsibility for their decision to smoke,” said Deborah Glendinning, lawyer for Imperial Tobacco.
The lawsuit, which is being heard at a court in Montreal, is expected to last at least 18 months because of the sheer volume of evidence.
Meanwhile, six Canadian provinces are set to sue tobacco companies over spiralling healthcare costs.
A similar American lawsuit led to a $250 billion payout.