09/12/2012 11:09 EDT | Updated 11/12/2012 05:12 EST

P.E.I. sues to recover smoking health-care costs

The government of P.E.I. has filed a claim with the province's Supreme Court in order to recover health care costs for tobacco-related illnesses.

The government had previously expressed its intention to bring the lawsuit, and earlier this year created legislation to allow it to file the claim.

"This claim begins the process of holding the tobacco industry to account for the harm it has caused to Islanders," said Justice Minister Janice Sherry.

The province retained a legal consortium for the lawsuit — headed by Bennett Jones, LLP and Siskinds, LLP — to represent it in the fall of 2011. The same consortium is also representing New Brunswick, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia.

Sherry said the lawsuit covers health care costs attributable to the sale and promotion of tobacco over the time when tobacco companies were aware of the dangers of smoking. It covers health care costs for tobacco-related illness on Prince Edward Island dating back to 1953.