Page 10 - May-June 2012

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10
May/June 2012
Public Citizen News
By Angela Bradbery
The World Trade Organiza-
tion’s (WTO) recent final ruling
against a popular new U.S. law
designed to curb teen smok-
ing highlights the broad threats
posed by “trade” agreements
that include provisions that ex-
tend far beyond trade.
The WTO’s Appellate Body
ruled in early April against the
landmark Family Smoking Pre-
vention and Tobacco Control Act
of 2009, which banned the sale of
candy and other sweet-flavored
cigarettes used to attract children
to smoking. The WTO ordered
the U.S. to water down the law,
scrap it or face trade sanctions.
The ruling comes as the Obama
administration
negotiates
a
new trade pact, the nine-nation
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Public Citizen is calling for ne-
gotiators to steer away from the
kind of WTO language used to
successfully attack the youth
anti-smoking law. Public Citizen
also is demanding that the “in-
vestor-state” enforcement sys-
tem found in the North American
Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
and subsequent deals not be
replicated.
This regime enables corpora-
tions to directly challenge basic
health, safety and environmen-
tal laws before foreign tribunals,
demanding our tax dollars in
compensation for policies that
limit the corporations’ expected
future profits.
Australia’s law requiring plain
packaging for cigarettes is being
attacked by Phillip Morris Inter-
national in such a tribunal, which
is using the same regime to at-
tack a similar law in Uruguay.
“Countries should not be weak-
ening their public health laws
to comply with the anti-health,
anti-environmental
rules
jammed into so-called trade
agreements. These recent attacks
on tobacco regulation under-
score why countries must insist
that WTO and other trade agree-
ment rules be altered and no new
agreements should use the same
corporate backdoor deregulation
model,” said Lori Wallach, di-
rector of Public Citizen’s Global
Trade Watch. “If there is any sil-
ver lining to theWTO ruling slam-
ming our anti-smoking policy, it
is that it will confirmwhy our past
trade agreement model must be
replaced.”
In the cigarette case, the WTO’s
Appellate Body upheld the major
WTO Attack on U.S. Teen Anti-Smoking Law Highlights Dangers of ‘Trade’ Pacts
conclusions of a September 2011
WTO ruling from a panel of three
diplomats from Costa Rica, Japan
and Uruguay, who determined
that the U.S. ban on sweet-fla-
vored cigarettes violated a never-
before interpreted provision of
the WTO’s Agreement on Techni-
cal Barriers to Trade (TBT).
The panel said that the ban dis-
criminated against Indonesian
clove cigarettes, even though
both U.S. and foreign tobacco
companies are prohibited from
selling clove cigarettes in the
U.S., and even though other
sweet flavors like chocolate and
cola also were banned. Indonesia
successfully argued that the ban
as it applied to clove cigarettes
violated WTO rules because the
U.S. did not ban all flavored ciga-
rettes (menthol-flavored ciga-
rettes were exempted from the
ban).
This is the third instance in a
short time period in which the
WTO has struck down U.S. laws.
In the other two cases, the WTO
last year ruled against a U.S. law
requiring meat to be labeled with
its country of origin and another
law preventing tuna sold in the
U.S. from displaying a “dolphin-
safe” label if the tuna was caught
with purse seine nets, which
needlessly kill dolphins.
In response, Public Citizen has
launched a “Consumer Rights
Pledge” for concerned citizens
to sign. It calls on the adminis-
tration not to cave in to the WTO
and gut health, safety and envi-
ronmental laws.
Signers promise to alert the
community and elected rep-
resentatives to WTO attacks
on consumer policies. To sign
the pledge, visit http://pubc.it/
Jtr0h2.
“The Obama administration
and Congress must not bow to
yet another ruling from a so-
called trade agreement tribunal
demanding that the U.S. get rid
of yet another important health
or environmental policy,” Wal-
lach said. “The Obama adminis-
tration must stand with the thou-
sands of Americans who have
signed the pledge calling on the
U.S. to not comply with these il-
legitimate trade pact rulings and
to stop the Trans-Pacific Part-
nership (TPP) trade negotiations
that would greatly intensify this
problem.”
IN THE
SPOTLIGHT
The following are some highlights from our recent media coverage.
Robert Weissman, president of Public
Citizen:
On the growing movement to
curb corporate influence in elections:
The Washington Post, The Huffington
Post, The Progressive, Campus
Progress, Orlando Sentinel. On
the dangers of hospitals marketing
free infant formula: Reuters, The
Huffington Post, CNBC, MSNBC,
Austin American-Statesman. On
regulations and the JOBS Act:
POTUS/SiriusXM.
Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public
Citizen’s Health Research Group:
On
the Food and Drug Administration’s
(FDA) approval of unsafe drugs like
Qnexa and Donepezil despite Public
Citizen’s warning of health problems:
The New York Times, USA Today,
The Huffington Post, Tucson Citizen,
Medscape, St. Paul Pioneer Press,
Pharmalot. On the FDA funding a
controversial research foundation:
NPR. On the dangers of buying
products from foreign pharmacies:
Minnesota Public Radio.
Lori Wallach, director of Public
Citizen’s Global Trade Watch:
On
the World Trade Organization
(WTO) ruling against the Obama
administration’s law to ban flavored
cigarettes: The Wall Street Journal,
Bloomberg, Reuters, Chicago Tribune,
Sun-Sentinel (Fla.),The Baltimore
Sun, Hartford Courant, CNBC, The
Hill. On making proposals about the
Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade
Agreement (TPP) open to the public:
Daily Kos.
David Arkush, director of Public
Citizen’s Congress Watch division:
On how the Securities and Exchange
Commission can help reform
campaign finance: The Nation,
Democratic Underground, Care2.com.
On the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in
AT
&
T Mobility v. Concepcion
and the
Arbitration Fairness Act: Reuters.
Tyson Slocum, director of Public
Citizen’s Energy Program:
On rising
gas prices: Free Speech Radio News,
Fox News Channel’s “Justice with
Judge Jeanine.” On why oil companies
should not be subsidized: America’s
Radio News Network. On how the
election year fuels oil conspiracy
theories: Houston Chronicle.
Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public
Citizen’s Texas office:
On Texas’ low
score in ethics accountability: Austin
American-Statesman, Texas Tribune,
Democratic Underground, KUT.org.
On the GOP’s nuclear-waste dump
donor: Salon.
Allison Zieve, director of the Public
Citizen Litigation Group:
On how
generic drugs are resistant to damage
suits: The New York Times, Honolulu
Star-Advertiser.
“Countries should not be weakening their public health laws
to comply with the anti-health, anti-environmental rules
jammed into so-called trade agreements. These recent attacks
on tobacco regulation underscore why countries must insist
that WTO and other trade agreement rules be altered and no
new agreements should use the same corporate backdoor
deregulation model.”
Lori Wallach
director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch