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Humans · Economy

Big Tobacco vs Small Governments

January 18th, 2014
in:Humans, Economy
by:Jonathan Lutes
located in:Canada, New Zealand, Gabon, Uganda, Togo
tags:antismoking laws, big tobacco, tobacco control

According to the World Health Organization more than five million people die of smoking-related causes per year – a higher number than those dying of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

Public health initiatives have been successful at lowering smoking rates in many countries, and more than 170 countries have signed the W.H.O. Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

But while smoking rates are dropping in the world's richer countries, developing countries are being targeted more aggressively as the tobacco industry still sees a growing market there. Tobacco opponents agree that big tobacco is threatening low- and middle-income governments with costly battles claiming that their anti-smoking legislation violates trade and investment treaties. Attempts to publicly regulate smoking in these countries have been legally contested by the tobacco industry – a strategy that, according to Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times, goes largely unnoticed.

As an example, Namibia, after passing a new law on tobacco control in 2010, was bombarded with legal warnings from tobacco companies, and – out of fear of expensive legal action – has not yet implemented even one of the provisions of the new law. Other African countries, including Gabon, Togo, and Uganda, have received similar warnings. But while curent focus lies on the developing world, even Canada and New Zealand have had to retreat on planned antismoking laws.

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Jonathan Lutes
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