Three national health organizations in Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Lung Association and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, are urging the country’s premiers to prioritize initiatives aimed at reducing smoking during settlement negotiations with major tobacco companies, reports The Globe and Mail.
These negotiations have been ongoing for four years following the provinces’ lawsuits seeking $500 billion in damages to recoup healthcare costs. The health organizations argued that tobacco use imposes a devastating toll on disease and death, contributing to the healthcare system’s ongoing crisis. They recommended that at least 10 percent of any settlement funds be dedicated to long-term independent funding for smoking reduction efforts. Additionally, they called for a ban on tobacco promotion by the industry, measures to hold the defendants accountable if tobacco use reduction targets are not met and the public disclosure of internal documents by the companies.
While the negotiations are ongoing, and the precise plans are confidential, the health organizations believe this is a historic opportunity to control the tobacco industry and significantly reduce tobacco use. They emphasize the connection between tobacco use and multiple diseases, including 16 types of cancer.
In the negotiations, all provinces are required to agree to any settlement, giving the government leverage to negotiate stringent measures. The health organizations also express disappointment that they have been excluded from the closed-door negotiations, contrasting it with the involvement of all 50 states in a similar settlement with tobacco companies in the United States in 1998, which resulted in the funding of an independent American foundation to oversee the industry and the disclosure of millions of previously secret documents.