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Congressman Mark Pocan

Representing the 2nd District of Wisconsin

#TruthInTrade Day 1: Big Tobacco Uses Bad Trade Laws to Fight Anti-Smoking Protections

Mar 17, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) today launched his #TruthInTrade campaign to highlight the threats free trade agreements – negotiated in secret – pose to the American people.  Poorly-crafted trade deals have made it easier for Big Tobacco to promote their harmful products to children and teens, by challenging regulations on cigarettes and other tobacco products. More information about #TruthinTrade is available here.

“Trade deals which put Big Tobacco ahead of children and families are not in anyone’s best interest – especially not our national interests,” Representative Pocan said. “The threats of expensive litigation and harmful de-regulation of dangerous tobacco products presented by free trade deals are very real, and I will continue to do all I can to ensure that Congress retains its ability to closely investigate and oversee potential trade agreements. I remain committed to protecting the health and safety of all citizens through thorough oversight of all foreign trade agreements.”

Tobacco companies have been using trade and investment agreements to challenge and undermine anti-smoking health policies – threatening the ability of countries to protect the health of their citizens.  For example, Philip Morris International sued Uruguay under a bilateral investment treaty over policies to counter the tobacco industry’s use of the deceptive marketing terms.

Uruguay’s anti-smoking initiatives have received accolades from the World Health Organization; including a law requiring 80% of cigarette packaging to contain health risk warnings and a ban on variations in packaging that suggest lower health risks from some tobacco products.  Philip Morris demanded Uruguay pay millions in compensation and eliminate the policy, which applies to both domestic and foreign tobacco brands.  The case is still pending.