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Public health must be protected in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Public health is under threat from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that is being negotiated between the EU and the United States. A mechanism called ‘ISDS’ would allow companies to sue governments for compensation if a public health policy restricted their business operations. For instance, it is feasible that a tobacco company could sue a sovereign state because of a tobacco control law.

The Irish Cancer Society recently published ‘TTIP, ISDS and the Implications for Irish Public Health Policy’. This is a major report into how the investor-State dispute mechanism (ISDS) in the trade agreement between the European Union and the United States could potentially affect the ability of the domestic parliaments to pass laws that will reduce the cancer rate and save lives.

The report is available in two formats:

· The Executive Summary & Recommendations are available below

· The Full Report is available below

We would like members of the FCA in Europe and the United States to share this report with lawmakers and look at how TTIP and ISDS could affect public health policy in your country.

We want:

. The removal of any form of ISDS mechanism from the proposed agreement

· The removal of the Regulatory Cooperation Body (RCB) from the proposed agreement – which is designed to extend the scope of TTIP in the future

· A transparent, ethical, human rights-based agreement that serves to increase standards of public health rather than erode them

As many of you know, Ireland has recently been pressing ahead with measures to reduce the smoking rate by passing laws to introduce standardised packaging of tobacco in 2016. This is being challenged in the domestic courts by Japan Tobacco International (JTI) in an attempt to block, amend and delay plain packs.

They are arguing that their business interests have been negatively affected and should be paid compensation. The reality is that tobacco companies already force the State millions of Euro in health costs; it is unthinkable that they believe they are due money because fewer people are choosing to smoke.

The Irish Cancer Society is confident that in a domestic court of law, public health will trump the rights of such companies.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could change this by introducing an investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) regime that would allow tobacco companies to bypass the domestic courts and seek compensation in front of a three-member arbitration panel.

It is via ISDS that Australia is being sued by tobacco companies for their extremely successful introduction of standardised packaging of tobacco, and why in turn other countries who want to introduce the measure have delayed their plans thanks to the threat of expensive litigation.

Big Tobacco will use every mechanism available to try and slow the decline in smoking in Europe and the US. Introducing ISDS or similar would allow these companies another avenue to challenge legislation that will reduce tobacco-related deaths.

It is for these reasons the Irish Cancer Society commissioned Dr Joshua Curtis of the London School of Economics and Dr John Reynolds of Maynooth University, Ireland to investigate the effect of such a mechanism on public health policy in Ireland.

Negotiations on TTIP are continuing with promises being made by the European Commission to replace ISDS with a similar, alternative mechanism. It remains to be seen what this will entail but our report clearly shows that TTIP can exist without an investor-State dispute resolution.

This is highly important in our battle against Big Tobacco.

The latest reports from Australia show the State has so far had legal fees of AU$50 million (€30 million) in defending plain packaging against Philip Morris International in an ISDS case without conclusion.

Under TTIP, this could become the norm in more and more countries. By ensuring public health policy is protected, we would be ensuring one less tool for Big Tobacco to use in challenging the fight against tobacco related disease.

Please bring this report to the attention of decision-makers in your country.

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