January 28, 2014

Attorney General Kane calls on U.S. Trade official to preserve tobacco regulation

HARRISBURG - Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane called on United States Trade Representative to preserve the ability of federal, state and local governments to regulate tobacco products. Attorney General Kane joined the chief law enforcement officers of 44 other states and territories to call for the Trade Representative to exclude tobacco and tobacco products from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement currently under negotiation.

In a letter sent this week, Attorney General Kane and the other Attorneys General said that the latest draft proposal for addressing tobacco in the TPP would not do enough to protect domestic tobacco control efforts.

"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."

The letter states that in addition to federal regulations, including the Family Smoking prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, states and localities also regulate tobacco. The goal of these regulations is to "protect citizens and their treasuries from the toll of death and disease that [tobacco] product cause."

Before the Tobacco Control Act, state Attorneys General, including Pennsylvania, joined the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with major tobacco companies. States enacted a variety of statutes and regulations to enforce the terms of the MSA. The letter states that Attorneys General want to protect "the public health achievements in the MSA" from "backdoor attacks" that could result from the TPP not excluding tobacco and tobacco products. Attorney General Kane is currently fighting an arbitrator's decision that could jeopardize some of the programs currently funded by the MSA.

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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