The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) May Pose a Threat to Public Health

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement contains provisions for tobacco products that threaten public health.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement contains provisions for tobacco products that threaten public health.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) contains provisions for tobacco products that threaten public health, according to a report presented at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 17th Annual World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) in Austria.

Zarihah Zain, MD, argued that that the TPPA increases the risk of tobacco use because it removes a number of “tariff and non-tariff barriers” to the free trade of tobacco and other goods. Of the 12 signatories to the TPPA, all but the United States are also party to the World Health Organization's (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which is at odds with the TPPA as it seeks to control access to tobacco.

Because the TPPA eliminates tobacco tariffs, prices for tobacco products will be reduced, resulting in increased demand. Unless there is a “significant compensating increase” in domestic excise taxes in the countries that negotiated the agreement, the elimination of tariffs will be a windfall for the tobacco industry, said Dr Zain.

Even more damaging to tobacco control are provisions in the TPPA that obligate signatory parties to ban Corporate Social Responsibility activities that target the tobacco industry. Other provisions further weaken tobacco control by requiring governments to conduct Regulatory Impact Assessments and to consult the tobacco industry before regulating it.

Dr Zain discussed her report at a press conference at the IASLC WCLC. “Tobacco is not like any legal commodity,” she said. “It is highly addictive, causes deaths, serious debilitating morbidity, and about 30% of all cancer incidence. The tobacco industry should not be given any privileges and allowed to benefit from trade agreements to gain hefty profits at the expense of public health.”

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The control of tobacco is one of the most cost-effective public health strategies and it is the only legal consumer product that has an international law to curb its supply and demands via the FCTC, said Dr Zain. She argued that tobacco should be subject to a “clear and complete exclusion” from both the TPPA and future trade agreements in order to allow governments to fully implement the FCTC.

“Tobacco is different than other consumer goods, and should not be treated like any other goods,” she concluded.

References

  1. Zain Z. Free trade & investment agreement threatens public health. Paper presented at: International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer; December 2016; Vienna, Austria. 
  2. Zain Z. Press Conference at: International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer; December 5 2016; Vienna, Austria.

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