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U.S. Health Groups Support USTR Efforts to Protect Tobacco Control Measures under Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement

May 14, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC — Four leading U.S. public health groups are supporting reported efforts by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to protect nations' authority to enact measures to reduce tobacco use under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement the U.S. is negotiating with eight other countries, and urge USTR to present its proposal this week during negotiations in Dallas. The organizations are the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

According to press reports, USTR has indicated that it will propose language this week to protect nations' authority to adopt tobacco control measures under the TPP and prevent such measures from being challenged as violations of the agreement. The latest round of TPP negotiations is being held in Dallas through May 18.

In a letter to USTR, the four health groups called the reported USTR approach 'a major step forward to protect public health,' while also urging complete exclusion of tobacco products from the TPP and other trade agreements.

If the description of the USTR proposal is correct, 'this proposal rightly recognizes that tobacco products are uniquely lethal, that there is a global consensus that nations should act to reduce tobacco use, and that trade agreements should not undermine the authority of governments to do so,' the health groups wrote.

'We strongly support language stating that nothing in this agreement shall prevent the countries involved from adopting or maintaining measures to reduce tobacco use and the harm it causes to public health. We urge the U.S. and the other countries involved to fight for this principle as the minimum that should be included in the TPP agreement with regard to tobacco products.'

Read the full text of the letter.