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Post date: January 27 2014

A.G. Schneiderman Joins Coalition Urging U.S. Trade Representative To Exclude Tobacco From Trade Agreements

Schneiderman: USTR Cannot Take Away An Important Regulatory Ability That Keep Our Citizens Healthy And Our Air Clean

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today joined 44 state and territorial attorneys general in sending a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) urging him to exclude tobacco and tobacco products when negotiating all international trade and investment agreements. This would preserve the ability of state and local governments to regulate tobacco products to reduce their use and protect the public health. 

“The numbers speak for themselves: Tobacco kills 440,000 American every year, and, at present rates, will kill more than one billion people worldwide in this century,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The USTR cannot disenfranchise the states by taking away this important regulatory ability, which is needed to keep our citizens healthy and our air clean.”

Negotiations are currently underway for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and the USTR’s draft proposal addressing tobacco would not adequately protect state and local regulation.

“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 believe “there is no policy justification for including tobacco products in agreements that are intended to promote and expand trade and investment generally.”
A copy of today's letter can be found here.

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