Stubbing Out the Tobacco Industry’s Abuse of Trade Agreements


The tobacco industry has a long history of flexing its muscles, namely in the area of investor protection schemes, against governments in the name of protecting its own market. TTIP is an opportunity to set a good example for 21st century trade agreements by, at the minimum, recognizing the unique dangers presented by the tobacco industry, and ensuring that measures aimed at reducing the use of tobacco products cannot be subject to investor-state challenge.

Manufactured tobacco products are unique; they are the only consumer products that kill when used as intended. Without effective tobacco control policies to reduce consumption, tobacco products will kill one billion people in this century. No other consumer product kills 1 in 2 of its long-term users. That’s why 184 parties have ratified or signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – the world’s only public health treaty.

Countries across the globe are adopting tobacco control policies to protect their citizens’ health. In response, the tobacco industry is abusing investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in trade and investment agreements to sue and threaten countries over lawfully adopted, non-discriminatory tobacco control policies. Uruguay and Australia are both defending such policies against costly industry investment disputes, even after the industry comprehensively lost domestic challenges. These cases undermine the right of nations to protect the health of their citizens, and bully other nations into inaction.

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