Big tobacco: Is Ontario's $46.6 billion suit hypocritical?


When 46 states agreed to a $246 billion out-of-court settlement to recover the costs of smoking-related illnesses, they joined the other four that had previously sued and won. In Canada, the province of Ontario now seeks similar compensation from Big Tobacco with its own suit for $50 billion Canadian (about $46.6 billion).

The tobacco companies call the suit hypocritical: Ontario collects about $1.1 billion in tobacco taxes, of more than $7 billion levied among all of Canada's provincial governments. As long as cigarettes and other tobacco products are legal, industry proponents say, the tax money should cover health-care costs.