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Public Health, Medical Groups Urge U.S. to Support Malaysia’s Historic TPP/Tobacco Carve-Out Proposal

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — U.S. public health and medical groups applauded Malaysia’s historic proposal to “carve out” tobacco from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade pact now being negotiated by the U.S. and 11 other nations. “We have long urged the U.S. Trade Representative and the Department of Health and Human Services to take this common sense approach to safeguarding our laws and regulations that protect kids from getting addicted to deadly tobacco products, and help smokers quit,” said Ellen Shaffer, Co-Director of the Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH). “We now call on the USTR and HHS to follow Malaysia’s historic lead.”

The deadly and predatory tobacco industry has recently accelerated using trade rules to delay and reverse tobacco control measures that limit cigarette marketing in the U.S., Australia, Uruguay, Norway, and Ireland. Trade rules grant corporations the right to contest a wide range of local, state and federal policies. Countries that lose trade challenges face stiff financial penalties, payable to the complaining corporation.

U.S. laws prohibit the U.S. from using trade agreements to promote the sale or export of tobacco products. But the U.S proposes to eliminate tariffs on tobacco for TPP countries, which would mean cheaper prices for cigarettes, and increased consumption and use, especially among younger people.

Chris Bostic, Policy Director, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), stated, “Ensuring that no provisions of the TPP apply to tobacco controls and tobacco products will protect public health and help to shift authority for global tobacco policy to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).”

Tobacco is the only legal consumer product that kills when used as intended. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death worldwide, accounting for 6 million preventable deaths annually, and is a major contributor to the global pandemic of non-communicable diseases, including childhood morbidity and mortality.

Tobacco use kills 1,200 Americans a day and costs the $193 billion in health-related costs and lost productivity. In contrast, tobacco generates 0.10 percent (one tenth of one percent) of total U.S. annual exports, as large U.S. manufacturers have sold off their international businesses or formed subsidiaries located abroad. Exports of cigarettes and other U.S.-manufactured tobacco products dropped from $3.9 billion in 1999 to $488 million in 2011.

Joe Brenner, CPATH Co-Director, stated, “President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union message promised to lead an economy for the 21st Century, to reduce preventable deaths among youth, and to conduct policy transparently. Trade negotiations that expand corporate rights and powers, while undermining the public’s health, cannot advance sustainable economic growth or wellbeing.”

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Medical Students Association
Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH)
Human Rights and Tobacco Control Network (HRTCN)
International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC)
Our Bodies Ourselves
Physicians for Social Responsibility, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
Prevention Institute

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