OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada will consider the federal government's bid to be dropped as a third party in a pair of potentially expensive B.C. tobacco cases.

The high court granted the government leave to appeal lower court rulings which said it could be tied into suits filed against big tobacco firms.

One case involves the provincial government's effort to make the tobacco companies pay for smoking-related health costs.

The second is a class-action case against the makers of so-called light or mild cigarettes.

The tobacco companies argue that the federal government bears some responsibility in the cases because it regulated and taxed their products and even helped produce new strains of tobacco.

As usual, the high court gave no reasons for granting leave to appeal.