Canada appeals court upholds landmark tobacco ruling

Imperial Tobacco spokesman Eric Gagnon speaks to the media after the Quebec Court of Appeal's decision to uphold a Superior Court ruling in two class-action lawsuits against three tobacco companies, Friday, March 1, 2019, in Montreal. (AP)
Updated 02 March 2019
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Canada appeals court upholds landmark tobacco ruling

MONTREAL: Quebec’s appeals court on Friday upheld a historic ruling ordering three tobacco firms to pay Can$15.5 billion ($11.6 billion) to smokers in the Canadian province who claimed they were never warned about the health risks associated with smoking.
Imperial Tobacco Canada, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco, Rothmans Benson & Hedges and JTI-MacDonald have one month to launch an eventual appeal before Canada’s Supreme Court.
In June 2015, the Superior Court of Quebec ruled that the three companies should pay the whopping amount to tens of thousands of smokers suffering from emphysema, lung cancer or throat cancer.
According to media reports, accruing interest will bring the final amount to more than Can$17 billion.
The two class action lawsuits behind the award, which were originally filed in 1998, affected nearly one million smokers or ex-smokers, some of whom had been consuming tobacco since the 1960s. The trial only began in March 2012.
“We are disappointed with today’s decision,” Imperial Tobacco Canada spokesman Eric Gagnon told reporters. “As the ruling in the lower court showed, Canadian consumers know the risks associated with tobacco use. We should not be held responsible.”
Lawyers for the plaintiffs meanwhile celebrated the “historic” ruling, going so far as to call it a “masterpiece.”
“The ruling reached the same conclusions as did the lower court, solidifies them and confirms that the companies conspired for 50 years to lie to the public,” one of the attorneys, Andre L’Esperance, told journalists.
“This is a total victory, on all fronts,” added his colleague Philippe Trudel.
The lower court had ruled that the companies failed in their general duty “not to cause injury to another person” and to inform their customers of the risks associated with their products.


Sri Lanka expands visa-free scheme halted after bombings

Updated 55 min 11 sec ago
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Sri Lanka expands visa-free scheme halted after bombings

  • Sri Lanka initially projected a 30 percent dip in the number of foreign holidaymakers after the attacks
  • Sri Lanka welcomed a record 2.33 million tourists in 2018

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has re-introduced and expanded a visa-free entry scheme for visitors in a bid to revive its flagging tourism sector after the deadly Easter bombings, officials said Wednesday.
The concession for tourists from 39 nations was suspended after militants bombed three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo on April 21 killing 258 people, including 45 foreigners.
“As the security situation has improved, the cabinet of ministers decided to revive the visa-free scheme and also extended it to seven more countries,” the government said in a statement.
A tourism official said foreign governments have relaxed travel advisories for Sri Lanka since the attacks.
There has also been a lift in the number of arrivals, which nosedived soon after the bombings blamed on a home-grown militant group, the official said.
The new countries added to the expanded scheme — which already allows travelers from the European Union, Australia and the United States to enter Sri Lanka without a visa — include China and India.
Visitors still have to obtain a visa on arrival, but the government has waived the $35 fee from August 1.
Sri Lanka initially projected a 30 percent dip in the number of foreign holidaymakers after the attacks.
The following month the number of tourists plunged to 37,800, down from 166,975 in April, according to official figures.
But they improved last month with some 63,000 visitors, although numbers are still down from 146,828 in June 2018.
Sri Lanka welcomed a record 2.33 million tourists in 2018, and was named the world’s top travel destination for 2019 by the Lonely Planet travel guide.