sign up

Washington Post: Trade Deal Must Reflect “Unique Dangers” of Tobacco

September 19, 2013


In an editorial published today, The Washington Post called for protecting tobacco control measures under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, which the United States is negotiating with 11 other countries.

“Tobacco sickens and, eventually, can kill if consumed as intended. Every country, the United States included, should be taking every effective step to prevent smoking,” the Post wrote.

While expressing strong support for free trade, the Post called for including language in the TPP that “reflects the unique dangers of smoking both here and abroad.”

“Tobacco is unique, and everyone knows it. Surely that can be enshrined in an enforceable agreement,” the Post wrote.

This issue is important because the tobacco industry has filed lawsuits against several countries, challenging their tobacco control measures as violations of trade and investment agreements. These abusive and expensive trade lawsuits are aimed not only at defeating tobacco control measures, but also at bullying governments so they don’t act at all.

After proposing strong language last year to protect tobacco control measures under the TPP, the United States Trade Representative last month offered much weaker language. Malaysia then came forward with a proposal to “carve out” tobacco control measures, protecting them under the agreement.

The Post joins other newspapers that have called for protecting tobacco control measures under the TPP, including:

  • The New York Times: “Tobacco killed an estimated 100 million people in the 20th century and is projected to kill 1 billion people in this century unless strong action is taken to mitigate the damage. A carve-out from trade rules is only one tactic, but it could save millions of lives, especially in developing countries vulnerable to the industry’s pressure.”

  • The Sacramento Bee: “With profits to make and shareholders to please, the tobacco industry peddles its product in poorer nations and lately is seeking to use international treaties and U.S. trade policy to keep from losing more market share.”