World No Tobacco Day, an annual event organized by the World Health Organization, highlights the dangers of tobacco use and promotes tobacco control policies. One victory I’m particularly proud of on this front is a hard-fought win in Guam to increase the age of sale of tobacco products.
Trade Agreement Snuffs Out Big Tobacco Avenue for Public Health Challenges; Sets Global Precedent
Public health prevailed over big tobacco companies today, as 11 countries signed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in Chile including language that strengthens tobacco control efforts for participating countries. Once ratified by the signing countries, language included in the final agreement will prevent tobacco companies from using the investment chapter of the agreement to pursue disputes challenging tobacco control measures adopted by participating countries.
The United States originally proposed the tobacco exception language and signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, but after the change in administration in 2016, the president withdrew from negotiations. The remaining 11 countries - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – maintained the tobacco exception in what became the CPTPP.
As I noted in a previous Cancer Candor Blog, to date the threat of lengthy and expensive lawsuits have chilled efforts around the world to reduce the scourge of tobacco. This new protection paves the way for countries who want to act to improve the public health of their citizens and reduce the tobacco burden – a burden that kills more than 389,000 individuals in the CPTPP participating countries each year and has caused the death of 100 million worldwide in the 20th century.
The groundbreaking precedent should also become part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations. ACS CAN is again advocating for its inclusion as all three countries had agreed to the language in the TPP and Canada and Mexico have agreed to the language in the final CPTPP.
In addition to the global work, ACS CAN remains active across the United States advocating for critical policies proven to reduce tobacco use including regular and significant tobacco tax increases, comprehensive smoke-free laws, adequate funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs and comprehensive health insurance coverage that includes proven cessation.
It is our sincere hope that soon the United States will benefit in all future trade and investment agreements from the same public health protections those signatories of the CPTPP will enjoy, inoculated against lawsuits by tobacco companies that seek to undermine public health by keeping consumers addicted to their deadly products