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Attorneys general don't want trade agreement to include tobacco

By Bryan Cohen | Jan 29, 2014


DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and 44 other attorneys general urged a U.S. trade representative on Monday to make sure states can keep enforcing tobacco products under the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

The coalition of attorneys general urged Michael Froman, the U.S. trade representative, to exclude deal-related challenges to tobacco product laws or regulations as part of the TPP trade deal. The TPP is in its final stages of negotiations and is meant to enhance trade and investment among member countries, support the creation and retention of jobs and promote economic growth, innovation and development.

The U.S. is now negotiating the TPP agreement with 11 Pacific Rim countries.

"We request that any such agreement explicitly provide that it does not apply to trade or investment in tobacco or tobacco products," the coalition said.

Miller expressed his concern that the TPP agreement would classify tobacco products like other goods, which would allow tobacco companies to mount new legal challenges to local, state and federal laws and regulations. The challenges would occur outside of the U.S. legal system and would involve different standards.

Miller was a lead negotiator in the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco industry.

"The agreement's proposed language has a real potential to undermine what we've worked so hard to accomplish, and that's reducing the use of products that kill people and add enormous costs to our nation's health care system," Miller said.

Miller and the attorneys general requested that Froman push for a tobacco product carve out, which would exclude trade deal-related challenges to tobacco product regulations or laws.

"We just can't give the tobacco industry a chance to exploit this agreement by using it as an opportunity to try to undermine tobacco regulations through new avenues of litigation," Miller said. "While this is a significant international trade agreement, we can't allow it to trump important state laws and regulations that address tobacco control."

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