Top Leaderboard, Site wide
July 31, 2014
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
Help us grow by sharing
and liking Truthdig:
Sign up for Truthdig's Email NewsletterLike Truthdig on FacebookFollow Truthdig on TwitterSubscribe to Truthdig's RSS Feed

Newsletter

sign up to get updates


Hydropower Illuminates a Piece of History
Report Criticizes EPA Oversight of Injection Wells






Truthdig Bazaar more items

 
Ear to the Ground

U.S. Caves to Tobacco Lobby on Trade Pact Position

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Aug 26, 2013
Photo by Fried Dough (CC-BY)

Facing opposition by Big Tobacco and its legislative supporters, the Obama administration has apparently backed down from a proposal to use international trade agreements to preclude the tobacco industry from challenging anti-smoking laws overseas, the investigative website Fair Warning reports.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which coordinates trade policy at the White House, had proposed to include language in the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that would limit the tobacco industry’s ability to use trade pacts to challenge anti-smoking laws in other countries. After an uproar by Big Tobacco, as well as such pro-business groups as the Chamber of Commerce, the White House backed down.

Now the Trade Representative will seek to add language stating that “all trade agreements recognize the authority of countries to protect human life or health—including by regulating tobacco,” but requiring one nation to discuss anti-tobacco laws that might affect the products of another nation.

“In recent years, tobacco companies have invoked trade agreements to challenge the most stringent rules, such as requiring large graphic warnings on packs of cigarettes,” Fair Warning reports.

With countries around the world ramping up their fight to reduce smoking, trade agreements have become a weapon of choice as tobacco companies and their allies seek to thwart the toughest rules. For example, an Australian law requiring that cigarettes be sold in drab generic packs—eliminating distinctive brand logos and colors–has been attacked as violating treaty protections for intellectual property. Top cigarette makers Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco not only challenged the law in Australian courts, but have paid legal fees for three countries—Ukraine, Honduras and Dominican Republic– that have dragged Australia before the World Trade Organization.

Health advocates say the mere threat of a long, costly legal battle could deter low- and middle-income countries from taking strong action to curb smoking. A statement by five groups–including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, and American Cancer Society–voiced bitter disappointment with the new trade office proposal, calling it a “missed opportunity for the United States to lead the fight against this global epidemic.”

—Posted by Scott Martelle.

More Below the Ad

Advertisement

Square, Site wide

New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

 
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.