Tobacco Industry's Interest In Trade Negotiations? Totally Redacted

from the public-interest? dept

The folks at Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) sent a freedom of information request to the EU Commission, asking for details of meetings that trade officials held with the tobacco industry. This matters, because the tobacco industry is one of the major abusers of trade agreements, repeatedly making use of the “corporate sovereignty” ISDS provisions to effectively sue any country passing anti-smoking health laws — as was covered a few months back by John Oliver:

So, as new trade agreements are being negotiated — especially since the powers that be tell us these agreements are designed to protect the health and well being of the public — it seems that Big Tobacco’s efforts in these negotiations is pretty relevant. After numerous delays and confusing responses, CEO finally received a response. And it’s [redacted]. Well, not entirely, but basically anything useful is blacked out. Such as this lovely document, which is oh so revealing:
Democracy in action!

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Companies: ceo, philip morris

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Comments on “Tobacco Industry's Interest In Trade Negotiations? Totally Redacted”

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DannyB (profile) says:

What is their interest?

Their interest is in getting as many new generations of young people hooked as possible.

Isn’t that obvious?

Each new ‘user’ is a lifetime revenue stream. And they are likely to get other members of their family and friends addicted to this product.

Cigarettes are safe and legal. But a huge problem our society has is that we allow licensed physicians prescribe pain killers to people who need them. Drugs that have been carefully manufactured and have huge amounts of scientific data before they were ever allowed to be prescribed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: What is their interest?

Good to add that sarcasm note, but it is flippantly dishonest to compare cigarettes and pain meds the way you did.

Both may be bad for health and addictive, but only 1 makes you loopy and dangerous behind the wheel of a vehicle.

People are destructive and as long as they are only destroying themselves we need to keep our noses out of it. Cigarettes are hardly something to be concerned about when placed into perspective with a lot of other items that certainly require our attention more.

kallethen says:

Re: Re: Re: What is their interest?

People are destructive and as long as they are only destroying themselves we need to keep our noses out of it. Cigarettes are hardly something to be concerned about when placed into perspective with a lot of other items that certainly require our attention more.

But cigarettes can be destructive to other people, namely ‘second hand smoke.’

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What is their interest?

That second hand smoke scare was a propaganda screen. The EPA report was tossed out of court so far, it still hasn’t landed. If you go on the EPA website they have a notice that says they still believe they were right. LOL…Even the researchers said the science was bad. ‘But, we did it for a good reason, to stop people smoking.’ The case was RJ Reynolds vs EPA 1998.

If second hand smoke were a real hazard, then cooks in every restaurant would be wearing hazmat suits as they cooked your dinner. Second hand smoke is a nauseous nuisance and was rightfully banned in certain public areas. But they politicians just let the it go and went too far. Now we suffer from a nanny state as banning something gets a lot of political mileage and only harms a small segment of the population.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Someone took advantage of a notion once, therefore the notion is wrong!

Yeah who gives a crap of the health and welfare of that bottommost rung of working stiffs, the bar waitress? the next thing you know, they’re going to expect us to care about gas-station attendants.

Cooks don’t have to wear hazmat suits because OSHA requires the installation of a fairly high-powered active ventilation system, and this is for smoke that doesn’t (typically) contain tar or nicotine.

Smoking in bars in California is legally banned, but it’s a ban not well enforced and many bars are full of cigarette smoke. And they dont have a kitchen-standard ventilation system. Neither, for that matter, do family rooms where parents smoke and don’t quit for the sake of their kids, either because they don’t care or are just plain that addicted. But fuck ’em, they’re someone else’s larvae.

Never mind that the smog from Los Angeles has been regarded as a health threat, also without the tar or nicotine, at a lesser density than is found in bars, homes and motor vehicles. But we can ignore that data given it might tap into our already meager profits.

Fuck the commons if we can profit by wrecking it for everyone else!

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "Flippant and Dishonest"

And yet you choose that a pain med might make you loopy

Even when pain meds are prescribed in low enough doses to avoid the loopy, they’re still required to go through rigorous testing by the FDA.

Tobacco, I suspect is not scrutinized to the same degree that the FDA requires prescription drugs to be, whether they make you loopy or not.

And people smoke more when their parents and peers smoke. So there’s certainly a social vector by which this self-destructive behavior is communicated.

(Others have already mentioned second hand smoke).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What is their interest?

…The question is, would the same be true of regulated cannabis consumption lead to the same number of deaths as alcohol and tobacco? Remember, Tobacco and alcohol directly contribute, alongside prescribed medications, to the greatest number of deaths than pretty much the rest of US deaths combined.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What is their interest?

“Each new ‘user’ is a lifetime revenue stream.”

Not necessarily, as many have quit.
Big Tobacco plays both sides of this street in that they also sell products that supposedly help one quit smoking, the results are inconclusive.
Many who have successfully quit have done so cold turkey.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

We should at least be paid

I think USTR should charge a flat $250 million per seat for corporate representatives to take part in trade treaty negotiations. (EU should do the same.)

Given all the influence they have in the process and the protection they receive, companies should have to pay for the right to impose their dictatorial desires on the rest of us. The massive profit these treaties simply hand over to these sovereign corporations makes a fee like this mere pocket change; even if it is more than those corporations will ever pay in taxes.

ECA (profile) says:
The Philip Morris tobacco company is currently suing the Australian government over its tobacco plain packaging legislation, using an obscure 1993 Hong Kong- Australia investment treaty. Philip Morris is actually a US-based company, but could not sue under the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, because public opposition kept this clause out of the agreement. Philip Morris rearranged its assets to become a Hong Kong investor in order to use an obscure treaty. This shows how giant global companies can abuse such clauses in trade agreements,’’ said Dr Ranald.
The company complains that Uruguay’s anti-smoking legislation devalues its cigarette trademarks and investments in the country and is suing Uruguay for compensation under the bilateral investment treaty between Switzerland and Uruguay.[2] (Philip Morris is headquartered in Lausanne.)[3]
New Zealand, France, Norway and Finland are all considering plain cigarette packaging legislation

The government is facing down legal threats from Big Tobacco over plans to introduce standardised packaging for cigarettes, with Japan Tobacco International (Ireland) threatening the government over it immimnent plans.

The tobacco industry has already demonstrated its ability to inflict expensive litigation in Australia, which is fighting tobacco giant Philip Morris over similar restrictions to those planned by the Irish government.

The Australian government has faced a number of separate legal challanges – domestically and internationally.

The World Trade Organisation is expected to rule on a legal challenge against Australia in 2016, according to a statement from Philip Morris.

And this is only a 1 page search…

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