Tobacco should be excluded from free trade agreement

03/04/04

Letter: Tobacco should be excluded from free trade agreement BMJ Volume 328, p 581

Tobacco should be excluded from free trade agreements to protect health, argue researchers in this week's BMJ.

Their call comes in the week that the European Union and the South American trading bloc Mercosur will continue negotiations towards a free trade agreement.

Every day, doctors see the deadly effects of tobacco, write the authors. While trade liberalisation can bring benefits, free trade in tobacco leads to increased consumption. This inevitably leads to more tobacco related illness and death.

Excluding tobacco from free trade agreements would protect health. It is compatible with international law, which exempts other harmful products such as landmines, and World Trade Organisation commitments to protect human life.

Negotiators from the European Union and Mercosur must act to protect the future health of generations by excluding tobacco from this agreement. Such action would not only show leadership but would set an important precedent for future trade agreements, whether bilateral, regional, or international, they conclude.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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