So here is the story (I’ve stolen the following text from the Wikipedia page all about this) …
on 19 February 2010, when the multinational tobacco company Philip Morris International filed a complaint against Uruguay. The company complains that Uruguay’s anti-smoking legislation devalues its cigarette trademarks and investments in the country and is suing Uruguay for compensation under the bilateral investment treaty between Switzerland and Uruguay. (Philip Morris is headquartered in Lausanne.) The treaty provides that disputes are settled by binding arbitration before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
- Philip Morris versus Uruguay (sorry that is in Spanish … hint, google translate is your friend)
- … and yes, the World Health Organisation fully backs Uruguay on this (sorry, that link is also in Spanish)
OK, so what exactly have the folks in Uruguay done?
In 2006 they went for a simple ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces, then in 2008 they passed a law that has six specific anti-smoking strategies (translation) – For example warnings about the risks of smoking must cover at least 80% of the cigarette pack, raising taxes, banning cigarette advertising in the media, and banning sponsorship sport event.
Personally, as somebody who has watched a parent die … very slowly and painfully of lung cancer due to the Nicotine addiction … I fully support such policies, they strike me as about the right balance. An outright and total ban would be wrong, but issuing warnings, taxing it, and keeping it out of public spaces so that the rest of us don’t have to choke is about right, and those that are determined to continue smoking are free to slowly kill themselves.
Make no mistake here, this is about corporate greed vs public health, their product kills their customers, the CDC estimate that in the US 1 out of every 5 deaths is related to smoking – to translate … this is a product that kills 480,000 people in the US alone each and every year, so yes, higher taxes to reflect the burden this places upon society, appropriate factual warnings, and a ban in public spaces is wholly appropriate.
There is a Petition
So far (as I write this) 995,659 have signed, and so they are very close to reaching their goal of 1,000,000 signing. If you pop on over and add your name to the petition, then you can help the elected officials in Uruguay retain a robust and wholly appropriate public health strategy, and stop the attempts by corporate entity to dictate to an entire nation state.