Queen's Park Bureau
Ontario is suing tobacco companies for $50 billion to recover costs of treating citizens with smoking-related illnesses since 1955.
The lawsuit was filed today and follows enabling legislation passed earlier this year that sets the stage for the court case.
If Ontario is successful in proving its allegations of wrongdoing, tobacco companies would pay damages based on their share of cigarette sales in the marketplace.
Tobacco companies are now expected to file statements of their intent to defend themselves against the lawsuit, which could take years to wind its way through the courts.
British Columbia is also suing tobacco companies, and U.S. jurisdictions have done so as well.
The Ontario government says smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in the province, killing 13,000 people a year - or 36 per day - and costs taxpayers $1.6 billion annually.