New Brunswick Government Announcement "No Surprise"



    MONTREAL, Sept. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - Yesterday's announcement by the
New Brunswick government that it has hired a "consortium" of high powered
lawyers to sue the tobacco industry comes as no surprise.
    Imperial Tobacco Canada can only repeat here what it has said on many
occasions.
    This lawsuit has nothing to do with health. It has everything to do with
money. Not satisfied with taxing the industry, the government also sues in the
stated hope of reaching a settlement with the industry.
    The conditions that made a settlement possible in the U.S. do not exist
in Canada. There is no room to increase the price of the product. The
government taxes are already so high that illicit trade has reached more than
30 percent in some provinces. In any event, the proceeds in the U.S. have been
used for anything but health.
    The stunning fact that the government has found it necessary both to
change centuries' old law and to import US lawyers and their appetite for
money just to get to the point of filing a lawsuit speaks volumes about its
lack of confidence in the merits of its case. The case is not about the
merits. It is all about looking for a settlement. But the sad teaching of many
years of experience in the U.S. is that virtually all settlement money has
gone first to exceedingly wealthy lawyers and then to diverse projects that
share only the fact that they have nothing to do with smoking and health.
    Governments in Canada, both federal and provincial, are the senior
partners in the tobacco industry and the major beneficiaries. They receive
$ 9 billion a year in tobacco taxes, 13 times more than the profitability of
all the tobacco companies combined. Canada is the most regulated market in the
world, with regulations governing the product itself and how it is
manufactured, marketed and sold. And governments have been aware for decades
of the significant health risks associated with smoking. So it is bizarre that
governments should now sue an industry that they themselves control and from
which they pump the largest share of the revenues.
    There will be no settlement from the industry such as that hoped for by
the New Brunswick government. This case will take years to resolve.
    The industry will fight these cases and despite the unfair laws and
tactics displayed by the New Brunswick government, is confident of ultimate
success. Just ask the American plaintiffs' lawyers, they have lost cases too.




For further information:

For further information: Catherine Doyle, Manager, Corporate
Communications, (514) 932-6161, x 2113


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