Will U.S. Face Trade Sanctions for Anti-Smoking Law?
July 24, 2013
As Deadline Passes for U.S. to Alter Law Curbing Teen Smoking, Ruled Against by WTO, Final Decision on Administration’s Anti-Smoking Policy Could Shift Back to WTO
As the World Trade Organization (WTO) deadline passes today for the United States to comply with a WTO ruling against a U.S. ban on sweet-flavored cigarettes targeting youth, the spotlight shifts back to the WTO, which could now authorize trade sanctions if requested by Indonesia, the country that won the WTO challenge.
“We now have to wait and see whether the World Trade Organization will slam us with trade sanctions because the United States wants to maintain a policy to keep tobacco companies away from our children,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “After last year’s rulings against U.S. dolphin protections and popular consumer labels letting Americans know where their food comes, will the WTO depart from its anti-consumer legacy or choose to punish the United States for a common sense public health law?”
Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested public comment on an issue related to the WTO ruling: the health implications of menthol cigarettes. The Obama administration stated that FDA’s action constitutes compliance with a 2012 World Trade Organization order to alter a key component of the Obama administration’s landmark Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 (FSPTCA).
That law bans sweet-flavored cigarettes that entice youth to smoke. It shut down the sales of chocolate, strawberry and other sweet-flavored cigarettes sold only by U.S. firms as well as the sale of clove-flavored cigarettes that both U.S. and foreign tobacco companies were marketing. The WTO’s April 2012 final ruling against the FSPTCA concluded that the United States could only ban sweet-flavored cigarettes marketed to youth if it banned all flavored cigarettes, including menthols. The FDA will receive comments for 60 days on potential regulation of menthol cigarettes, after which the administration will decide what, if any, action will be taken.
It remains to be seen whether Indonesia will accept the FDA announcement or appeal to the WTO to enact trade sanctions against the United States. Indonesia convinced the WTO that the ban on its U.S. sale of clove-flavored cigarettes violated WTO anti-discrimination rules. U.S. consumer and health groups were outraged by the ruling, which effectively forbade incremental policies designed to target anti-smoking efforts at key populations – in this case, children.
The WTO’s April 2012 ruling against the anti-smoking FSPTCA law was soon followed by WTO rulings against two other popular U.S. consumer policies. In May 2012, the WTO ruled against voluntary “dolphin-safe” tuna labels that, by allowing consumers to choose to buy tuna caught without dolphin-killing fishing practices, have helped to dramatically reduce dolphin deaths. In June 2012, the WTO ruled against the popular U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) meat labeling program that informs U.S. consumers where their meat comes from and assists regulators in tracking food-borne illness outbreaks.The administration recently announced solutions to both cases that strengthen rather than weaken consumer and environmental safeguards. Mexico and Canada have threatened to challenge the new U.S. meat labeling policy at the WTO, which would issue a final decision about whether the new labels meet WTO rules. Mexico has also vowed to challenge the enhanced dolphin-safe labeling program, which would place that policy before the WTO as well. If the WTO does not rule that the strengthened U.S. safeguards satisfy WTO requirements, Mexico and Canada could impose trade sanctions against the United States unless and until the U.S. policies are changed to the satisfaction of the WTO.
Good. This issue has nothing to do with "keeping tobacco away from children." Alcohol is, by far, a greater temptation to the young. It is illegal to sell tobacco to people under... what is it now? 25? But you can get drunk, killed in a car crash, raped and pregnant with the help of alcohol, at a much younger age.The "war on tobacco" isn't even a health issue; smoking, believe it or not, was never prevalent in the US. By far, the greatest causes of medical costs and disability in the US are obesity and severe stress, and we take no punitive actions regarding these two things. All of that said, note that the most carcinogenic type of smoke is the kind that contains oil particles, and the leading source is traffic -- our cars, not tobacco. Millions of Americans have little if no exposure to tobacco smoke, but excessive, constant exposure to traffic fumes. Today, the anti-smoker campaign has become mere scapegoating, and as a culture, we enjoy -- perhaps need -- scapegoats.
Posted by: DHFabian | July 26, 2013 at 08:19 PM
America has been a “leader” in this antismoking insanity which other countries are following suit. The problem with Americans is that they are clueless to even their own recent history. They have a terrible history with this sort of “health” fanaticism/zealotry/extremism or “clean living” hysteria.
Antismoking is not new. It has a long, sordid, 400+ year history, much of it predating even the semblance of a scientific basis or the more recent concoction of secondhand smoke “danger”. Antismoking crusades typically run on inflammatory propaganda, i.e., lies, in order to get law-makers to institute bans. Statistics and causal attribution galore are conjured. The current antismoking rhetoric has all been heard before. All it produces is irrational fear and hatred, discord, enmity, animosity, social division, and bigotry. One of the two major antismoking (and anti-alcohol, dietary prescriptions/proscriptions, physical exercise) crusades early last century was in America. [The other crusade was in WWII Germany and the two crusades were intimately connected by physician-led eugenics]. The USA has been down this twisted, divisive path before. Consider the following. The bulk of claims made about smoking/tobacco were erroneous, baseless, but highly inflammatory. Unfortunately, the propaganda did its destructive job in the short term, producing mass hysteria or a bigotry bandwagon. When supported by the State, zealots seriously mess with people’s minds on a mass scale.
Posted by: D | July 28, 2013 at 12:19 PM
The current antismoking crusade, very much in the eugenics tradition, is much like previous crusades. It is a moralizing, social-engineering, eradication/prohibition crusade decided upon in the 1970s by a small, self-installed clique of [medically-oriented] fanatics operating under the auspices of the World Health Organization (see the Godber Blueprint http://www.rampant-antismoking.com ). This little, unelected group, using much the same inflammatory rhetoric of its fanatical predecessors, decided for everyone that tobacco-use should be eradicated from the world. These fanatics were speaking of secondhand smoke “danger” years before the first study on SHS, together with advocating indoor and OUTDOOR smoking bans: Secondhand smoke “danger” is a concoction to advance the social-engineering agenda, i.e., inflammatory propaganda.
The zealots’ goal this time is not to ban the sale of tobacco but to ban smoking in essentially all the places that people smoke. Up until recently the social-engineering intent has been masqueraded as protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke “danger”. But even this fraud is no longer viable in that bans are now being instituted for large outdoor areas such as parks, beaches, campuses where there is no demonstrable “health” issue for nonsmokers. This dangerous mix of the medically-aligned attempting social engineering is a throwback to a century ago. We seem to have learned nothing of value from very painful lessons of only the recent past.
Posted by: D | July 28, 2013 at 12:20 PM
The tobacco industry loves to blame the customers for what the product, used exactly as intended, did to them. The industry tagline is "but everyone knows!"
Of course, everyone does not. I'd like to thank DHFabian for providing a compelling example. The gap between the reality of what this product does, and what everyone knows, is illustrated powerfully. Thanks!
Posted by: Jon | July 28, 2013 at 01:33 PM
The two initial posters, DHFabian and D (are they the same individual?) are an example of purporting denialism of the destructive role that smoking has on our society and the expert marketing plan and billion dollar budget applied by an industry that has been determined to be racketeers by a US Federal Court.
Posted by: smokefree | July 28, 2013 at 07:30 PM
It is time to ban smoking and instead make space to the electronic cigarettes. They are healthier and can make anyone qiut smoking
Posted by: Elektronisk-cigaret.info | July 29, 2013 at 08:28 AM
In sharp contrast to claims made in the first two sentences of this press release (including a quote by Lori Wallach), there is no evidence that clove flavored cigarettes were ever target marketed to youth.
As the one who convinced Sen. Mike Enzi to amend the Tobacco Control Act legislation in 2007 to ban clove cigarettes (and to require color graphic warnings on cigarette packs), I think it critically important to point out the reason for doing so was to expose the outrageous lies and hypocrisy of Ted Kennedy and drug industry funded CTFK, ACS, AHA, ALA for falsely claiming the legislation would ban flavored cigarettes even though it exempted the most commonly used flavorings in cigarettes (menthol and clove).
Even after clove was added to the flavoring ban by the US Senate HELP Cmte, the legislation (now law) exempted menthol, which accounted for 99% of all flavored cigarettes.
I've subsequently urged the White House, Congress and the FDA to rescind the clove flavoring ban because it violates the WTO agreement (and because there was never any evidence the products were target marketed to youth, just like there's never been any evidence that any other now banned flavored cigarettes were target marketed to youth).
Those same drug industry funded groups that falsely claimed "flavored cigarettes are target marketed to youth" (as they praised legislation that they previously negotiated and agreed to with Philip Morris to among other things, exempt menthol from the banned flavorings) have been also falsely claiming that flavored cigars, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes are target marketed to youth (but of course not the candy flavored NRT products that they are paid to promote and defend).
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Posted by: Bill Godshall | July 29, 2013 at 01:32 PM
Anyone care to explain why adults require "protection" from flavored cigarettes and why they will no longer be able to purchase them?
If you don't ban all cigarettes, [it remains illegal to sell cigarettes to a minor, No?] one has to assume the selective bans will accomplish absolutely nothing, beyond limiting the rights of adult consumers, even if you include menthol in the list of bans.
Posted by: FXR | July 29, 2013 at 09:36 PM
"the reason for doing so was to expose the outrageous lies and hypocrisy of Ted Kennedy and drug industry funded CTFK, ACS, AHA, ALA for falsely claiming the legislation would ban flavored cigarettes even though it exempted the most commonly used flavorings in cigarettes (menthol and clove)."
Bill; might I remind you that none of the flavored products, except clove and menthol, were even on the shelf anywhere in the nation at the time they were banned?
I would like to see the lost of companies actually selling strawberry and chocolate flavored cigarettes.
Right after the demonstration of the ads depicting these or any cigarette products marked or marketed "for youth only consumption".
Lairs and self serving thieves, the lot of them.
Posted by: FXR | July 29, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Logically banning any flavor of cigarette exposes the lie, that it is aimed to protect children, The same way that cigarette taxes protect children by making it to expensive for them to smoke.
Adults require no such protections and no form of exemptions with proof of age [as already demanded of retailers who sell, them] seems to be the fly in the ointment, that makes liars of the lot of them. If kids are not allowed to buy cigarettes, flavored or otherwise, what was the real necessity for a ban or even a tax?
The US hasn't a leg to stand on, and their own actions [or lack thereof] convict them as liars. If you don't ban the possession of cigarettes by minors, as you already do with alcohol, you are only making excuses for what should be seen as a political fraud and absolute lack of legitimate commitment, to the stated goals and concerns that you claim.
Posted by: FXR | July 29, 2013 at 10:04 PM
The World Health Organization in keeping with the Godber blueprint sees personal and parental autonomy rights, as an obstacle rather than a legal obligation to be respected. In this sense they are in conflict with the mandate of the United Nations to protect those rights and obligations in keeping with rule of law. they have failed to honor a right of full disclosure, as an obligation of informed consent. This organization which prefers social engineering, propaganda campaigns, bigotry derived of "denormalization" as cast designations of those who do not meet their health standards, takes us back to revisit the mood in 1930's Germany for which [and rightly so] Doctors were hanged at Nuremberg. It is time to step aside of these self important lunatics and revisit the lessons so hard learned the last time this "Public Health Movement" or cult was allowed to speak down to elected and democratic governments and the people who employ them. Taking back what this organization [wrought with financial corruption] has stolen in the name of the common good. Or as written in Mein Kamph "Protecting the children" as a political ploy. The UN needs to form an inquiry and investigation of the WHO to determine the true effects of so called "stakeholder partnerships" to thereafter determine how far this corruption, ignored far too long, actually extends.
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