Tobacco firms in Canada have been ordered to pay CA$15.5 billion ($12.6 billion) to smokers who claimed they were never warned about health risks.
Imperial Tobacco Canada, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges and JTI-MacDonald all said they would appeal the award for moral and punitive damages, which is the largest in Canadian history.
The two class action suits were originally filed in 1998, but only made it to trial recently. The cases represent nearly one million smokers who were unable to quit or who suffer from throat or lung cancer, or emphysema.
The plaintiffs argued that the companies neglected to properly warn their customers about the dangers of smoking, and failed in their general duty “not to cause injury to another person,” according to the Quebec Superior Court decision.
The companies said the court’s decision is not supported by the evidence presented at trial, and vowed to try to overturn it on appeal.
“Since the 1950s, Canadians have had a very high awareness of the health risks of smoking,” JTI-Macdonald said in a statement.
“That awareness has been reinforced by the health warnings printed on every legal cigarette package for more than 40 years.”