Tobacco Industry Challenge Fails

On September 20, 2000, Madam Justice Danielle Grenier of the Superior Court of Quebec released her judgment in Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc., JTI-Macdonald Corp., Imperial Tobacco Limited v. The Attorney General of Canada and The Canadian Cancer Society, dismissing an application for a stay of the Tobacco Products Information Regulation presented by the three major tobacco manufacturers of Canada.

The three major tobacco manufacturers of Canada challenged the constitutionality of the Regulation and filed last June an Application for a stay of the Regulation. This Regulation provides for an increase in the size of health warnings on tobacco products. According to that Regulation, as of December 2000, the major tobacco manufacturers will have to devote 50 per cent of the space on cigarette packages to health warnings and pictures of diseases related to tobacco consumption.

In support of their Application for a stay, the tobacco manufacturers argued that the Regulation violated their right to freedom of expression. They argued that the enforcement of the Regulation in December 2000 would cause them irreparable harm and that they would have to spend substantial sums of money to change the printing of their cigarette packages, money which is essentially not recoverable if their claim on the constitutionality of the Regulation succeeds. The Court did not accept these arguments.

Colin Irving and Douglas Mitchell of Irving, Colin & Associates acted for JTI-Macdonald Corp., Simon Potter and Gregory Brian Bordan of Ogilvy Renault acted for Imperial Tobacco, Gérald Tremblay and Marc André Blanchard of McCarthy Tétrault acted for Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc., Maurice Régnier of Gilbert Simard Tremblay with Claude Joyal and Marie Marmet acted for the Attorney General of Canada, and Julie Desrosiers of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP with Rob Cunningham in-house acted for the Canadian Cancer Society who had intervenor status in the case.