05/29/2015 09:07 EDT | Updated 05/29/2016 05:59 EDT

Flavoured tobacco lawsuit slammed, cancer society celebrates N.S. ban

The chief executive of Nova Scotia's Canadian Cancer Society division says the lawsuit a tobacco giant has launched against the provincial government is "outrageous" and amounts to a "corporate bullying tactic."

Imperial Tobacco announced Thursday it will challenge in court Nova Scotia's impending ban on flavoured tobacco, including menthol cigarettes.

Beginning Sunday, all flavoured tobacco products will no longer be allowed to be sold in the province. 

Imperial says the ban is a "knee-jerk" reaction and that menthol-flavoured tobacco isn't popular among young people.

But Barbara Stead-Coyle, with the cancer society's Nova Scotia division, accuses Imperial of using a legal "scare tactic" to force the province to back off the ban.

"Every time governments bring in progressive legislation against tobacco … big tobacco puffs up its chest and says, 'We're bigger than you are, and we can beat you and this is just the way they play the game,' and we're not going to stand for it," Stead-Coyle says.

Imperial, however, argues menthol cigarettes are popular among older adults who will now be driven to contraband tobacco to find products they want.

"It is not often that illegal tobacco dealers get a new business opportunity presented to them on a silver platter," Caroline Ferland, Imperial's vice-president of corporate affairs, said Thursday.