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Tobacco companies to pay the price for health-care costs

Ontario joins British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in passing legislation which paves the way for lawsuits against tobacco companies, and the opportunity to form a strong multi-provincial coalition to ensure cost recovery and comprehensive settlements.

“The Heart and Stroke Foundation applauds the McGuinty Government’s recognition of the tobacco Industry’s culpability through deceptive marketing practices and denial of health-related illness resulting from nicotine addiction,” says Bill Thomas, Interim CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. “Today’s legislation finally opens the door for justice and accountability for an industry that has been responsible for the single greatest public health epidemic in Canadian history.”

The hope is that the public and potential future smokers will see this deception for what it is and not fall victim to the devastating effects of smoking. People need to realize the tobacco industry is not a normal, legitimate business. This legislation is key to continuing that public awareness.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario has been a key supporter of Ontario’s tobacco control movement through its advocacy work. This has resulted in the successful passage of the Smoke Free Ontario Act, mass media campaigns which aired smoking cessation messages since 1999, and its partnership with key stakeholders such as: The Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco, The Canadian Cancer Society, The Lung Association, The Ontario Medical Association and the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association. Through the dedication and support of these key stakeholders, Ontario has passed some of the most comprehensive anti-smoking legislation in the world.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, smoking is a major cause of heart disease, stroke and diseases of the vascular system. Smoking-related cardiovascular disease is responsible for more than 6,000 deaths in Ontario each year.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating and reducing the impact of heart disease and stroke through its advocacy work, advancement and application of research, and the promotion of health living.

Posted March 2009.