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Call to bar alcohol and tobacco from TPP

Colin Williscroft | Monday September 12, 2011

Trans Pacific Partnership negotiators have been told to exclude alcohol and tobacco from any agreement.

The executive vice-president of the American Medical Association (AMA) James Madara wrote to US trade representative Ron Kirk urging the exclusion of tobacco and alcohol products from all provisions of TPP and any other free trade agreement.

“Removing trade barriers may be a desirable objective when the products being traded are beneficial, but tobacco is not a beneficial product,” Mr Madara said.

“Cigarettes are the only legally available consumer product that kills through its intended normal use.”

The letter cited longstanding AMA policy that “international trade agreements recognise that health and public health concerns take priority over commercial interests, and that trade negotiations be conducted in a transparent manner and with full attention to health concerns and participation by the public health community’’.

The exclusion would prevent actions like that of cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris, which has sued the governments of Uruguay and Australia for their tobacco control policies.

It would also mean intellectual property rules would not apply to tobacco and alcohol trademarks, and governments would not be required to reduce their current tariffs on imports, Professor Jane Kelsey, associate dean from the Auckland University law school said. Prof Kelsey was at the TPP negotiations in Chicago.

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