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Imperial Tobacco alleges in court documents menthol ban is outside province’s jurisdiction

The spring sitting of the Nova Scotia legislature is slated to kick off Thursday, but posturing over the government's promised flavoured-tobacco legislation has already begun.
The spring sitting of the Nova Scotia legislature is slated to kick off Thursday, but posturing over the government's promised flavoured-tobacco legislation has already begun. File / Global News

HALIFAX – Documents filed at Nova Scotia Supreme Court show that Imperial Tobacco believes the province’s Tobacco Access Act oversteps its jurisdiction.

A statement of claim obtained by Global News finds that the plaintiffs, Imperial Tobacco and Mary Wadden, the owner of a tobacco specialty store in Stellarton, believe the bill is, “inoperative under the constitutional doctrine of federal paramountcy to the extent it prohibits the sale of menthol tobacco products.”

It was filed just days before the province’s sweeping flavoured tobacco ban is set to take effect.

The document said that the federal Tobacco Act prohibits the sale of tobacco products that contain flavoured additives but that Parliament exempted menthol from the list of prohibited flavoured additives.

The plaintiffs said that means menthol tobacco products can thus be lawfully sold in the country.

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The statement of claim further reads that the province cannot override this matter of constitutional law and, as a consequence, Bill 90 is “inoperative.”

The document also states that the bill, “unjustifiably infringes upon the right to liberty of both vendors and smokers of menthol tobacco products.”

“The limitations on the right to liberty of tobacco vendors and smokers of menthol tobacco products created by Bill 90 are not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice,” the statement reads.

RELATED: Controversy surrounds possible menthol cigarette ban in Nova Scotia

The plaintiffs said the bill oversteps in its reach and impacts the rights of vendors and smokers, “without advancing the purpose of the law” and will increase the use of contraband products and illicit drugs.

The province and the Canadian Cancer Society have said that the legal challenge is a scare tactic being used by an industry that is concerned about its profits.

Both parties said they have no plans to back down, and the province’s chief public health officer said Nova Scotia will move ahead with the ban this weekend.