On the threat from trade agreements to tobacco regulations, few have been able to come as close to the heart of the matter as Mayor Bloomberg. His opinion piece in today’s New York Times in reaction to President Obama’s reversal on tobacco in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement brilliantly summarizes why we should all care about how tobacco is treated in this and future trade agreements.
I have found that trade negotiators see the public health community as a nuisance, ignorant of the complex issues of trade and somehow extremist for believing that tobacco is a unique product. We are not completely ignored, but it has always been clear that our voice pales in comparison to the voice of industry, including the tobacco industry.
Mayor Bloomberg cannot be similarly disregarded. One of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, no one can accuse him of being anti-corporation or anti-free trade. To his eternal credit, he has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to fighting the global tobacco epidemic, not just because he cares about health – which he clearly does – but because he understands that tobacco use makes us poorer.
Thank you Mayor Bloomberg. We are engaged in a struggle against very powerful forces. Your stand helps even the odds.