Did government encourage smoking?

Did the government turn a blind eye to big tobacco?

How responsible is the federal government in encouraging people to smoke or for not acting sooner? In the late 1960s the Canadian federal government helped the tobacco companies develop cigarettes with a lower tar content. Standing back and doing nothing can be as bad as taking steps for change.

The Canadian government has won a bid for a hearing before the Supreme Court over whether the government should be a defendant in a lawsuit against tobacco companies over the cost of treating smoking-related illnesses.

Part of the filing stated that a finding of government liability “would place an indeterminate strain on available public resources and would effectively create an insurance scheme for tobacco manufacturers at the expense of Canadian taxpayers.”

The Court of Appeal for British Columbia in December overturned a trial judge’s earlier decision that had removed the federal government from the case. The 3-2 decision by the appeals court ruled the government must be added as a co-defendant.

The tobacco manufacturers say the government should share responsibility for health costs. This is based on the fact that Agriculture Canada conducted its own research while regulating the tobacco industry. They knew that smoking and lung cancer were linked. Still Agriculture Canada encouraged and aided the industry in developing light and mild brands.

Not everyone agrees that the federal government should be held accountable. The Canadian Cancer Society said that the tobacco industry is based on deception. Since the tobacco companies intentionally suppressed the health hazards of the lighter and milder brands of cigarettes you cannot put the blame on the government.

This action by the next step in a long-standing legal battle that started when the courts ruled in 2005 that B.C. had the right to sue the tobacco companies.

We know the federal government made a tremendous amount of money out of the tax on cigarettes? Should they be held accountable now for what was not done prior to warnings? What do you think?