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Attorneys General Call On Trade Representative To Preserve Tobacco Regulation

CONTACT: Elliot Burg, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5507

January 29, 2014

Vermont Attorney William H. Sorrell is leading an effort to preserve federal, state and local control over tobacco products in a proposed Pacific-basin free trade agreement. In a letter released today through the National Association of Attorneys General and co-sponsored by Attorneys General Sorrell and Lawrence Wasden of Idaho, the chief law enforcement officers of 47 states and territories are calling upon the United States Trade Representative to exclude tobacco and tobacco products from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is currently under negotiation. This would preserve the ability of federal, state and local governments to regulate tobacco products to reduce their use and protect the public health.

According to the letter, the U.S. Trade Representative’s latest draft proposal addressing tobacco in the Trans-Pacific Partnership would not adequately protect tobacco control efforts in the United States. “As the chief legal officers of our states, we are concerned about any development that could jeopardize the states’ ability to enforce their laws and regulations relating to tobacco products,” reads the letter. “Experience has shown that state and local laws and regulations may be challenged by tobacco companies that aggressively assert claims under bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements. … Such agreements can enable these tobacco companies to challenge federal, state and local laws and regulations under standards and in forums that would not be available under United States law.”

The Attorneys General note that tobacco kills 440,000 Americans every year and, at present rates, will kill more than one billion people worldwide in this century. Their letter stresses that “there is no policy justification for including tobacco products in agreements that are intended to promote and expand trade and investment generally.”

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