January 16, 2011 - The tobacco industry has launched a backdoor attack on legislation to make plain packaging of cigarettes compulsory, using a regional free trade agreement to which Australia is expected to become a signatory. Philip Morris has used Australia's plain-packaging laws, scheduled to come into effect next year, to argue the need for ''investor state'' provisions in the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. This would allow companies to sue member governments if they pass legislation curtailing business activities.
US-based multinational pharaceutical and tobacco companies use new trade deal to threaten public health legislation, Australian Medical Association, 1/16/2011.
Background - Australia plain packaging of cigarettes:
1st off - we are very happen that Prime Minister Julia Gillard held on to power as Australia's first female prime minister. Australia - Tony Abbott no friend of health care especially when it comes to your children..Thomas Faunce, an Australian Research Council future fellow at the Australian National University, called on the federal government to resist the inclusion of investor state provisions in the agreement. He said the provisions duplicated ground that had already been covered in the 2005 Australia-US free trade pact.
September 19, 2010 - Australia - plain cigarette packaging will legislation be written to avoid any legal challenge..
September 12, 2010 - Australia - documents reveal big tobacco directly involved in stopping move to plain cigarettes in 2012...
June 24, 2010 - Australia - new Prime Minister Julia Gillard...
June 14, 2010 - Australia - U.S. Chamber of Commerce expresses concern about cigarette plain-packaging..;
April 29, 2010 - Australia - tobacco tax increase now in force, next comes plain tobacco packaging..;
April 29, 2010 - Australia - plain packages on all tobacco products within 2-years..;
November 9, 2009 - Australian study - Plainer cigarette packages, perceived as boring or unattractive, would make smoking much less appealing to teens..;
September 2, 2009 - Australia - Comments on the National Preventative Health Taskforce's Proposal..;
"Australia can rebut such attempts on the basis that they reopen the [free trade agreement] negotiations where an investor-state clause was expressly excluded," Associate Professor Faunce wrote in a critique published today in the Medical Journal of Australia - see above...
Negotiations on the trade agreement - between the United States (US), Australia, New Zealand and six South American and south-east Asian countries - intensified last year and are expected to be completed in September.
In a submission on the proposed trade agreement to the US trade representative, Philip Morris cited Australia's plain-packaging laws among "initiatives of concern." The company said it supported laws to reduce any harm caused by tobacco, but opposed "extreme and disproportionate regulation … which has the effect of violating international law and expropriating intellectual property rights."
Simon Chapman, a professor of public health at the University of Sydney, said the company's stance was consistent with the tobacco industry's history of attempting to use trade agreements to defeat individual countries' health laws. "It's yet another sign of the degree to which the industry will go to to defeat and delay any measure that will actually work [to cut smoking rates]", he said.
The World Trade Organisation's Uruguay Round had established the right of countries "to put health considerations above international trade considerations." (Uruguay - Supreme Court dismissed a constitutional challenge by PMI..)
Craig Emerson, the Minister for Trade (The Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP Australian Minister for Trade) would not commit on excluding investor-state provisions from the trade pact, saying he was not prepared to make policy on the run.
But he said Philip Morris would be ''whistling in the wind'' if it tried to undermine national anti-tobacco laws.
Reference: Fresh assault on anti-smoking laws,
Julie Robotham, The Sydney Morn ing Herald, 1/17/2011.