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International trade law, plain packaging and tobacco
industry political activity: the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Gary Fooks, Anna B Gilmore

Tobacco companies are increasingly turning to trade and
investment agreements to challenge measures aimed at
reducing tobacco use. This study examines their efforts
to influence the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a major
trade and investment agreement which may eventually
cover 40% of the world’s population; focusing on how
these efforts might enhance the industry’s power to
challenge the introduction of plain packaging.
Specifically, the paper discusses the implications for
public health regulation of Philip Morris International’s
interest in using the TPP to: shape the bureaucratic
structures and decision-making processes of business
regulation at the national level; introduce a higher
standard of protection for trademarks than is currently
provided under the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects
of Intellectual Property Rights; and expand the coverage
of Investor-State Dispute Settlement which empowers
corporations to litigate directly against governments
where they are deemed to be in breach of investment
agreements. The large number of countries involved in
the TPP underlines its risk to the development of
tobacco regulation globally.

Tobacco Control published online June 20, 2013

doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050869

Click here to download Fooks & Gilmore, Tobacco Control, June 2013

International trade agreements: a threat to tobacco control policy
E R Shaffer, J E Brenner, T P Houston
International covenants establish a role for governments in
ensuring the conditions for human health and wellbeing,
which has been recognised as a central human right.
International trade agreements, conversely, prioritise the
rights of corporations over health and human rights.
International trade agreements are threatening existing
tobacco control policies and restrict the possibility of
implementing new controls. This situation is unrecognized
by many tobacco control advocates in signatory nations,
especially those in developing countries. Recent
agreements on eliminating various trade restrictions,
including those on tobacco, have expanded far beyond
simply international movement of goods to include internal
tobacco distribution regulations and intellectual property
rules regulating advertising and labeling. Our analysis
shows that to the extent trade agreements protect the
tobacco industry, in itself a deadly enterprise, they erode
human rights principles and contribute to ill health. The
tobacco industry has used trade policy to undermine
effective barriers to tobacco importation. Trade
negotiations provide an unwarranted opportunity for the
tobacco industry to assert its interests without public
scrutiny. Trade agreements provide the industry with
additional tools to obstruct control policies in both
developed and developing countries and at every level. The
health community should become involved in reversing
these trends, and help promote additional measures to
protect public health.

(Suppl II):ii19–ii25. doi: 10.1136/tc.2004.007930

Bringing a Public Health Voice to Global Trade and Sustainable Development
Ellen R. Shaffer and Joe Brenner, Co-Directors
P.O. Box 29586, San Francisco, CA 94129
phone 415-922-6204