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Myron Levin is editor of FairWarning.

5 comments to “As Nations Try to Snuff Out Smoking, Cigarette Makers Use Trade Treaties to Fire Up Legal Challenges”

  1. Protest by Tobacco State Politicians, Business Groups May Snuff Out Obama Administration Trade Move | ASH > Action on Smoking & Health

    […] As FairWarning has reported, with many countries ramping up their fight to reduce smoking, trade agreements have become a weapon of choice for tobacco companies seeking to thwart the toughest rules. For example, an Australian law requiring that cigarettes be sold in drab generic packs—eliminating distinctive brand logos and colors–has been attacked as violating treaty protections for intellectual property. Top cigarette makers Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco not only challenged the law in Australian courts, but have paid legal fees for three countries—Ukraine, Honduras and Dominican Republic– that have dragged Australia before the World Trade Organization. […]

  2. Nile Rivers

    Well to me this is another classic of profit vs democracy, alongside the continuous oil fiasco. It’s a huge topic and democracy is only effective when all the facts and truths of both sides of the debate are known. Which they aren’t, and as long as there are means to bury them, probably never will be.

    In a nutshell – profit aside for this – smoking is, was, a social invention, lets accept it. It’s taken decades for this social acceptance to reverse, but it’s happened pretty much overnight. Which should bring us to discuss how we deal with these multi-billion $ tobacco industries and their pushers possibly going bust overnight too, but that’s all about economy.

    What I have trouble with is how the national governments have been trying to deal with the captive demand already in existence. It’s one thing to put pressure on corporations, but another to make their audience cough, scuse the pun.

    Taxes. Bad enough at what, 80% a pack retail? Do the math on that! Supposedly to pay for the illnesses that tobacco causes (and this the same reason quoted by Big Sister here in Aus for the packaging law). Perhaps, but I pay private health at nearly triple premiums because I used to smoke. I don’t now, but no matter, I still have to pay. If I were to opt for state medicare, the chances are I would die before being cured of whatever smoke related illness I had.

    Now these pictures on the packaging. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for putting off anybody ever trying a smoke for the first time. But you ever try telling a teenager not to do this or that because here’s the proof of what can happen if you do? Big mistake, you know it. This is an art unto itself. Putting grotesque pictures all over packaging creates interest and morbid fascination, if anything, and here in Australia, I still see kids lining up at the kiosks to spend all their pocket money on the cancer sticks. They actually compare pictures to see who’s got the most grizzly one. My mates who still smoke tell me they reckon they are more likely to succumb to disease now because every time they reach for their packs, they feel they are already condemned rather than stand some (hopeful)chance of surving thru it. Power of suggestion? Maybe, I’m no shrink. Needless to say, not one of them are planning to quit because of these pics.

    One other point of curiosity, are these pics actually real? Or doctored. Again, scuse the pun. If they’re real, I sure hope the ‘models’ or at least their kin are being paid with my already spent taxes. Infamy be it posthumous, is still worth something surely.

  3. Stanton Glantz

    The tobacco companies’ use of trade treaties is particularly cheeky since previously secret tobacco industry documents show that their own lawyers have told them for decades that such claims are groundless. This information is described in our recent paper, “Tobacco industry argues domestic trademark laws and international treaties preclude cigarette health warning labels, despite consistent legal advice that the argument is invalid,” which people can read at http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2012/11/23/tobaccocontrol-2012-050569.abstract

  4. Audrey Lyle

    Democracies cannot exist when unelected bodies like WTO tribunals can overrule national laws. The USA should withdraw from the WTO. How could this be accomplished?

  5. Louis V. Lombardo

    Bravo! Fine reporting to help people around the world from predatory practices of corporations concerned with profits at the expense of public health and safety!

    Thanks too for reporting in your Daily Briefing:

    Judge Orders Tobacco Companies to Admit That They Lied About Dangers of Smoking

    November 28, 2012 |

    Ruling in a long-running government racketeering case calls for cigarette makers to clear the air about past deception. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler previously said she wanted the industry to publish corrective statements in advertisements. But Tuesday’s ruling in the case’s final phases is the first time she’s specified what the companies need to say. “Cigarette companies intentionally designed cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction,” says one of the statements. Another says: “When you smoke, the nicotine actually changes the brain – that’s why quitting is so hard.” Kessler wrote that the new advertising campaign would be an appropriate counterweight to the companies’ “past deception” dating to at least 1964

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