Frequently Asked Questions

What are the criteria to qualify for compensation?

In order to qualify for compensation under the tobacco class actions, you must have:

  1. Smoked at least 87,600 cigarettes manufactured by Imperial Tobacco, RBH or JTI-MacDonald between January 1, 1950 and November 20, 1998.
    For example:
    20 cigarettes a day for 12 years (20 x 365 x 12 = 87,600 cigarettes); or
    10 cigarettes a day for 24 years (10 x 365 x 24 = 87,600 cigarettes).
  2. Been diagnosed before March 12, 2012 with one of the following diseases:
    – Primary lung cancer;
    – Primary squamous cell cancer of the throat (larynx, oropharynx or hypopharynx); or
    – Emphysema.
  3. Been a Quebec resident at the time of your diagnosis with the tobacco-related illness.

The heirs of a tobacco victim meeting these 3 criteria are also entitled to compensation if the victim died after November 20, 1998.

Which tobacco-related diseases are covered by the tobacco class actions?

In order to qualify for a compensation, a smoker or ex-smoker must have been diagnosed in Quebec before March 12, 2012 with one of the following diseases:

  1. Primary lung cancer;
  2. Primary throat cancer, specifically squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx, oropharynx or hypopharynx; or
  3. Emphysema.

What qualifies a cancer as "primary"?

Primary cancer specifies the organ in which it first appeared.

Secondary cancer implies that the initially localized cancer has metastasized and spread to one or more other organs.

For example, kidney cancer initially develops in the tissues of the kidney. It may then metastasize and develop in the lungs.

In this example, even though cancer cells may have developed in the lungs, the cancer is NOT considered a primary lung cancer. It is a primary kidney cancer and is therefore not covered by the class action.

Which throat cancers are covered?

The term “throat” is regularly used, but it is not a medical term.
What we commonly call “throat” actually refers to different parts of the upper aerodigestive tract, not all of which are covered by the class action.

  • The oral cavity is not included, while the larynx is.
  • 2 of the 3 parts of the pharynx, the hypopharynx and oropharynx, are included.
  • Furthermore, the oropharynx contains several structures, including the base of the tongue (posterior third of the tongue).
    However, the anterior two-thirds of the tongue–also known as the “body of the tongue”–is rather considered a structure of the oral cavity. This portion of the tongue is therefore not covered by the class action, whereas the posterior third is.

So, if you have throat cancer, check which diagnosis you’ve received.
If you’re not sure, register anyway.

What's the difference between emphysema and COPD?

Emphysema is a degenerative disease that occurs when lung tissue breaks down and loses its elasticity.

Emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma are part of what is known as chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (“COPD“).

These three diseases are distinct but overlap considerably. They are all characterized by shortness of breath, chronic cough and increased sputum production.

The current trend in the medical profession is to diagnose COPD as opposed to emphysema. As clinical habits have changed over time, it is possible that a diagnosis of COPD is in fact emphysema. The GOLD classification of COPD may give an indication since stages 3 or 4 of COPD are often emphysema.

What is the CCAA?

CCAA stands for Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

The CCAA allows a company with significant debts to continue to operate and reorganize itself in order for it to be able to pay its debts in part and avoid the disastrous consequences of bankruptcy.

The court grants the company protection in the form of a stay of proceedings against the company, so that it can negotiate a compromise with the people to whom it owes money (i.e., its “creditors“).

The purpose of the stay of proceedings under the CCAA is to give a company time to reorganize or negotiate with its creditors so that it can pay its debts and stay in business.

What is the purpose of a stay of proceedings under the CCAA?

The purpose of this stay of proceedings is to allow negotiations with all the creditors of the company that has placed itself under the CCAA’s protection. The stay of proceedings makes it possible to negotiate a global settlement for all claims against it.

Does filing for CCAA protection mean bankruptcy?

No. Although the defendant tobacco companies have filed for the CCAA’s protection, they are not bankrupt.

What's the difference between registering and claiming?

Registering and claiming are 2 distinct processes in a class action.

Registering keeps you informed of important developments in the class action. Potential class members provide their contact details to the class counsel, usually via an online form. This step enables them to receive an email when there is progress in the file. The registration form often includes case-specific questions to help the lawyers manage the case.

Claiming, on the other hand, is designed to compensate class members. Like registration, it generally involves filling in a form, sometimes accompanied by supporting documents. What distinguishes a claim, however, is that it takes place at a later stage in the process, during what is known as the “claim period”. This period follows a final judgment or the approval of a settlement. During the claims period, a claims administrator is normally appointed by the Court to evaluate claims and determine their eligibility.

In a nutshell, registration allows you to follow the progress of the class action, while the purpose of the claim is to obtain compensation.

Why should I register?

By registering, you ensure that you will be notified when it’s time to file a claim.

You will also receive updates on the progress of the case.

We will contact you from [email protected] or at the following telephone numbers: 438 384-7230 or 1 888 880-1844.

Why am I asked for so much information at the registration stage?

The information you give us enables the lawyers to keep in touch with you and know the real facts about your situation. This information helps the lawyers to have a better idea of the situation of class members, which is essential to represent you in the best possible way.

In addition, it allows communications to be tailored to your situation, so that the messages you receive are relevant.

How do I register?

To register, fill in the short quiz that will take you to the right registration form.

The questionnaire is available here.

Can I add a contact person to my registration form?

Yes, you can add a contact person to your registration form.

However, it’s important that this contact person is reliable and that you’re comfortable sharing your information with them. Don’t add someone’s email address if you don’t want them to know the information in your file.

When is the deadline for registration?

There is no deadline to register. You can register up until the start of the claims period.

To register, fill in the short quiz that will take you to the right registration form.

The questionnaire is available here.

I have all my supporting documents. Can I claim now?

No, the claim period is not open yet. You cannot claim compensation now.

Keep your files in a safe place in preparation for the claim period.

Why is it taking so long before a claim can be made?

On March 1, 2019, the Quebec Court of Appeal rendered a historic judgment, confirming the no less historic judgment of the Quebec Superior Court, which ordered that the 100,000 Quebec victims covered by the CQTS-Blais class action who were diagnosed with lung cancer, throat cancer or emphysema (the “Class Members“) be compensated by the defendant tobacco companies (the “Tobacco Companies“). The value of the judgments is nearly $14 billion, including interest.

On March 8, 12 and 22, 2019, the Tobacco Companies sought, and were granted, the protection of the CCAA by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (the “Ontario Court“), which ordered a stay of all proceedings against them. The three Tobacco Companies invoked the enormous $14-billion condemnation ordered by the Quebec Court of Appeal, as well as the lawsuits brought by the 10 Canadian provinces to recover health-care costs due to smoking, whose claims then exceeded $500 billion, in support of their request for court protection.

As a result of the CCAA Proceedings, the execution of the judgments obtained on behalf of Class Members who had won at the Quebec Court of Appeal were stayed by the Ontario Court.

See the page detailing the history of the class actions for more details.

When will I receive my money?

We don’t have that information at the moment. The best way to keep abreast of developments is to register.

To register, fill in the short questionnaire which will take you to the right registration form.

The questionnaire is available here.