Opinion Editorial

Lawsuit should embarrass us all

Greg Vandermeulen

Manitoba has joined five other provinces in making complete fools of themselves in a major court action. The province is joining B.C., Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. in suing tobacco companies Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, Philip Morris, JTI-Macdonald, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Canada, and British American Tobacco.

Justice Minister Andrew Swan claims that they need to recover the costs the health care system has incurred as a result "of the tobacco industry's misrepresentations and deceptive practices". This is despite the fact that all tobacco products are prevented from advertising, feature dire health warnings on packing material, and are not even visible in any store, unless a customer requests to see them. But even if their claim was true, this is a terrible precedent and tells us more about the NDP's misguided understanding of taking responsibility, then their health values.

For one thing, the government is complicit in the delivery of tobacco products to Manitobans.

They ensured that while they were giving lip service to the idea that they wanted a smoke free population, they never implemented changes to make that happen.

The increases in price to tobacco products have been carefully set to make it difficult, but not impossible for people to go on smoking.

No government in the history of Manitoba has actually tried to stamp out the practice. Instead they seem to look for that line where they can maximize tax revenue, but not eliminate that tax base. But the most disturbing part of this, is that the NDP are giving smokers a free pass on their addiction.

Let's be clear. It is not the cigarette companies' faults that people smoke. People are dumb enough to do things that are harmful to their bodies.

Many smoke, drink too much alcohol, eat too much fatty foods, get too little exercise, gamble too much, or use illegal drugs.

Guess what... it's nobody's fault but your own.

The NDP are looking for cash since they can't run their own affairs properly, but that's no reason to throw out Manitoba historical values of personal responsibility.

The irony is that if they are successful, a precedent will be set that should allow gamblers to sue their provider - the province, for the costs stemming from their addiction.