Portland, OR. – Yesterday, Washington County Circuit Court ruled against an existing ordinance to end the sale of flavored tobacco in the county.
The following can be attributed to Jamie Dunphy, Oregon director of government relations for ACS CAN:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 5, 2015 – The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement approved today by negotiators in Atlanta reportedly includes a provision supported by public health groups that would protect the authority of member countries to enact lifesaving tobacco control measures.
The provision, offered by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman during negotiations last week, would prevent tobacco companies from using business-to-country trade disputes, known as Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS), to wage legal challenges against tobacco control measures in effect in member countries.
“In their work to craft an agreement that would substantially benefit their countries economically, negotiators also appear to have taken an historic step to prohibit tobacco companies from using the agreement to attack laws intended to reduce disease and death caused by tobacco use,” said Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), which has strongly supported including such a provision. “The international community cannot allow the efforts of countries to protect their populations from the harms of tobacco use to become ensnared in trade-related legal challenges brought by the tobacco industry.”
The tobacco industry has used trade and investment agreements, including bilateral investment treaties, to sue governments, bring cases to arbitration tribunals and bully countries into inaction. For example, the industry challenged Australia’s 2012 plain-packaging requirement for cigarettes by filing an investment treaty dispute and a court case against the Australian government – both of which have been extremely costly for the country to defend. As a result, other countries interested in pursuing similar policies have held off doing so because of the threats of a dispute.
“The tobacco industry’s tactics have embroiled countries with tobacco control measures in costly legal battles and intimidated other nations that are interested in pursuing similar policies,” Hansen said. “The TPP proposal should set a precedent for trade agreements to treat tobacco products differently from other products, a critical step that will energize economic development, alleviate poverty and improve public health globally.”
Broad international consensus that governments should address the global tobacco crisis is reflected in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the world’s first public health treaty, which 179 parties have adopted. The U.S. has not ratified the FCTC but is largely implementing its provisions, primarily through U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco products under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
The proposed language in the TPP could ensure the United States can continue to implement the lifesaving provisions authorized by the Tobacco Control Act, including banning fruit and candy flavoring in tobacco products that make them appealing to youth, mandating larger and more effective warning labels, requiring tobacco companies to disclose all ingredients and additives in their products and restricting the appealing advertising to entice youth to begin using tobacco products.
Tobacco use is responsible for approximately 6 million deaths per year globally, and an estimated 1 billion people worldwide will die from tobacco use this century without significant action to reduce tobacco use. Nearly 80 percent of these deaths will occur in low- and middle-income countries, where the death, disease and disability caused by tobacco use is especially damaging to productivity and economic growth. The American Cancer Society and ACS CAN are working with public health advocates and governments across the globe to help reduce the health and economic burden of tobacco by increasing the price of cigarettes, implementing smoke-free workplace policies, improving understanding of the harms of smoking and preventing the tobacco industry from targeting children.
ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.