Two leading experts on tobacco control and public health in the context of international trade law spoke at a Jan. 31 seminar at PAHO headquarters. Dr. Armando Peruga, program manager of the Tobacco-free Initiative at the World Health Organization (WHO) explained the impact of trade liberalization on tobacco sales and consumption, and the importance of using the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to counter that impact.
“Trade, investment and liberalization can be bad for your health, especially in the area of tobacco control,” said Peruga. However the FCTC is an instrument that is being used successfully by WHO member countries to protect public health without violating international trade rules.
Dr. Benn McGrady, director of the O’Neill Institute on Trade, Investment and Health, described tobacco industry efforts to challenge tobacco control legislation under the provisions of international trade agreements. The FCTC can help countries resist such challenges by establishing international standards considered “necessary for human health.”
“Countries have a general right to implement these measures,” said McGrady, as long as their implementation does not run afoul of international trade rules.