In an historic ruling, a Canadian court has ordered three tobacco companies to pay $15.6 billion to smokers for the damage done to their health.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Brian Riordan ordered the following three tobacco firms to split the fine accordingly: Imperial Tobacco is to pay $10.5 billion, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges $3.1 billion and JTI-Macdonald $2 billion.
The three tobacco firms said on Wednesday they will appeal against the court verdict, arguing that the smokers in the case were aware of the health risks of smoking for several decades.
The plaintiffs include an estimated one million Quebec smokers whose habit had led to throat cancer, lung cancer or emphysema, and who followed the lawsuit for years saying the companies fully knew that they were putting out a harmful product while hiding its negative health effects.
The companies continued to argue that the dangerous health effects of tobacco were never hidden to the public.
“People knew about the health risks associated with smoking for many decades and the federal government who licensed and enabled us to sell those products knew about those health risks for many decades,” Imperial Tobacco Canada spokesman Eric Gagnon said earlier this year.
Many scientists, surgeons and medical practitioners have confirmed that smoking is a high risk factor for a huge range of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and bronchitis.
However, one Swedish study on 6,000 men suggests if men kick their smoking habit soon, they could regain their health and vitality. The study was published in the journal Science.