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Biden: US trade agreements should not apply to tobacco products

Consumer Protection | Department of Justice | Department of Justice Press Releases | Date Posted: Monday, January 27, 2014



Wilmington – Attorney General Beau Biden today joined 44 fellow Attorneys General in signing a letter sent today to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), calling on him to exclude tobacco and tobacco products when negotiating international trade and investment agreements.  The letter comes amid negotiations currently underway for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, a multilateral trade and investment agreement among Pacific Rim countries, and the Attorneys General are concerned that the USTR’s draft proposal addressing tobacco would not adequately protect existing state and local regulation.

 

“Delaware and many other states have taken specific steps to reduce tobacco use, particularly among youth, and we don’t want to threaten the substantial progress those efforts have made in protecting public health,” Biden said.  “That’s why we’re urging the United States Trade Representative to preserve the ability of state and local governments to regulate tobacco products in order to protect public health in any agreement he negotiates.

 

“As the chief legal officers of our states, we are concerned about any development that could jeopardize the states’ ability to enforce their laws and regulations relating to tobacco products,” today’s letter reads.  “Experience has shown that state and local laws and regulations may be challenged by tobacco companies that aggressively assert claims under bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements…. Such agreements can enable these tobacco companies to challenge federal, state and local laws and regulations under standards and in forums that would not be available under United States law.”

 

Unfortunately, the “Elements of Revised TPP Tobacco Proposal” that the Trade Representative announced this past August would not adequately protect state and local regulation from these potential adverse consequences of the current draft TPP agreement.  As we understand from publicly available information, the August USTR proposal has two elements: first, an “understanding” that a general exception in the TPP agreement for “matters necessary to protect human life or health” applies to “tobacco health measures,” and second, a requirement that there be non-binding consultations between the respective public health officials of the concerned parties before formal consultations are initiated with respect to any challenged measure. The USTR proposal, however, fails to recognize the unique status of tobacco as a harmful product; would not eliminate the need for arbitration to determine whether a measure falls within the exception; and in any event would apparently apply only to the TPP trade provisions and thus would have no impact on investor-state arbitration that the tobacco industry uses as a tool to challenge and stymie legitimate measures that countries (including their federal, state, and local governments) adopt to reduce tobacco use.

 

The attorneys general believe “there is no policy justification for including tobacco products in agreements that are intended to promote and expand trade and investment generally.”

 

The letter sent by the Attorneys General can be found at http://www.naag.org/sign-on_archive.php.

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Biden: US trade agreements should not apply to tobacco products

Consumer Protection | Department of Justice | Department of Justice Press Releases | Date Posted: Monday, January 27, 2014



Wilmington – Attorney General Beau Biden today joined 44 fellow Attorneys General in signing a letter sent today to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), calling on him to exclude tobacco and tobacco products when negotiating international trade and investment agreements.  The letter comes amid negotiations currently underway for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, a multilateral trade and investment agreement among Pacific Rim countries, and the Attorneys General are concerned that the USTR’s draft proposal addressing tobacco would not adequately protect existing state and local regulation.

 

“Delaware and many other states have taken specific steps to reduce tobacco use, particularly among youth, and we don’t want to threaten the substantial progress those efforts have made in protecting public health,” Biden said.  “That’s why we’re urging the United States Trade Representative to preserve the ability of state and local governments to regulate tobacco products in order to protect public health in any agreement he negotiates.

 

“As the chief legal officers of our states, we are concerned about any development that could jeopardize the states’ ability to enforce their laws and regulations relating to tobacco products,” today’s letter reads.  “Experience has shown that state and local laws and regulations may be challenged by tobacco companies that aggressively assert claims under bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements…. Such agreements can enable these tobacco companies to challenge federal, state and local laws and regulations under standards and in forums that would not be available under United States law.”

 

Unfortunately, the “Elements of Revised TPP Tobacco Proposal” that the Trade Representative announced this past August would not adequately protect state and local regulation from these potential adverse consequences of the current draft TPP agreement.  As we understand from publicly available information, the August USTR proposal has two elements: first, an “understanding” that a general exception in the TPP agreement for “matters necessary to protect human life or health” applies to “tobacco health measures,” and second, a requirement that there be non-binding consultations between the respective public health officials of the concerned parties before formal consultations are initiated with respect to any challenged measure. The USTR proposal, however, fails to recognize the unique status of tobacco as a harmful product; would not eliminate the need for arbitration to determine whether a measure falls within the exception; and in any event would apparently apply only to the TPP trade provisions and thus would have no impact on investor-state arbitration that the tobacco industry uses as a tool to challenge and stymie legitimate measures that countries (including their federal, state, and local governments) adopt to reduce tobacco use.

 

The attorneys general believe “there is no policy justification for including tobacco products in agreements that are intended to promote and expand trade and investment generally.”

 

The letter sent by the Attorneys General can be found at http://www.naag.org/sign-on_archive.php.

# # #

image_printPrint

Related Topics:  


Graphic that represents delaware news on a mobile phone

Keep up to date by receiving a daily digest email, around noon, of current news release posts from state agencies on news.delaware.gov.

Here you can subscribe to future news updates.