16 February 2012
The President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20500 USA
Dear Mr President,
CARVE OUT TOBACCO FROM THE TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT
We are writing to you about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement currently being
negotiated and wish to raise several concerns with you. It is not enough to have free and fair trade,
we need safe trade too and the tobacco business is not a safe trade. We are appealing to you to
carve out tobacco from the TPP. Below we cite our reasons.
There are over 40 countries in the world that have pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs, but
when these sovereign governments try to protect their public health by increasing the size of the
warnings, tobacco companies like Philip Morris take them to court using bilateral trade agreements.
Your administration is facing a lawsuit by tobacco companies, preventing the FDA from applying
pictorial health warnings. What chances do small governments like Uruguay have in the face of
wealthy and powerful transnational corporations? We in Southeast Asia have fought hard to put
tobacco control measures in place. We are very concerned that through the TPP, transnational
corporations can undo or threaten our governments to roll back the little we have accomplished.
The tobacco industry is like a chameleon changing its legal identity to suit itself in fighting tobacco
control. For example in suing the Uruguay government, Philip Morris is a Swiss company. In suing the
Australian government’s plain packaging laws Philip Morris is a Hong Kong company. It is impossible
for a government to protect public health against this elusiveness on the trade platform like the TPP.
In the 1980s the US government through the Trade Representative Office priced open Asian markets
which resulted in tobacco use increasing in Asia. We do not want a repeat performance of the US
tobacco business might upon Asia. Eight out of the nine countries negotiating the TPP are Parties to
the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Through the FCTC the Asia Pacific
region has made advancement in tobacco control. It seems logical for the eight countries to exclude
tobacco from the TPP. We are appealing to your administration not to block this move. The next
round of negotiations is taking place in Melbourne Australia 1-9 March, 2012. We hope health is not
sidelined at this round by your administration.
Mr President, when you signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in June
2009, you sent a message to the world that the US has a strong stand on tobacco control. We urge
you to continue to reflect that position in the TPP and put health before trade.
Thank you for your kind consideration.
Ms. Bungon Ritthiphakdee