Skip to main content

The deadly tobacco industry increasingly deploys trade charges intended to bludgeon countries from Uruguay to Australia into abandoning policies that keep kids from getting addicted, and help smokers quit, as well documented in today's NY Times.

The U.S. Trade Representative should fix this problem during negotiations on the proposed 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).  But stalemates in U.S. trade policy are perpetuating this obvious injustice.  

Trade ministers derive priority status within governments based largely in outdated beliefs that they will magically conjure prosperity by conspiring in secret, allegedly to eliminate trade barriers such as tariffs and quotas which in fact have long go been substantially reduced.  The predominant business of agreements like the TPP is actually reducing "technical barriers" to trade - that is, democratically adopted laws and regulations that protect the public's health, environment, labor standards, and financial transactions.

In the secretive, rarified world of trade negotiations, even when public health succeeds in getting a proposal to the negotiating table on an issue like tobacco, it is subject to be traded away at any moment by a trade minister who views it primarily as a bargaining chip for deals on more important concerns, like sugar, cars, or financial derivatives.

The Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH) has systematically documented how tobacco industry trade challenges threaten public health's rights to implement tobacco control measures. Medical and public health leaders in the U.S. and worldwide have echoed the call to "carve out" tobacco from trade agreements.  

Malaysia presented a carve-out proposal at TPP talks in August, The USTR has advanced two increasingly weak compromises. Legal analysis from Georgetown [R. Stumberg, Safeguards for Tobacco Control: Options for the TPPA.  America Journal of Law and Medicine, 39 (213); 382-441] has confirmed in irrefutable detail that compromises short of a "carve out" would be virtually ineffective.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death worldwide, claiming 6.3 million deaths a year, including 1,200 Americans daily, and draining almost $200 billion a year in U.S. health care costs and lost productivity. Tobacco is barely a blip in the U.S. economy, and less than a fraction of a percent of our exports.

But the tobacco industry has made it clear that it will oppose any restriction on its rights to continue to appropriate trade rules. They've bought a box seat to the hermetically sealed, secretive trade negotiations, and the solid complicity of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Public health has no such advantages.  Interestingly, though, we have the truth.  And in this possibly unusual case, the truth is increasingly difficult to ignore.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site