Packages of cigarettes with anti-smoking material on them at a store in Sidney.
(Image by Conor Ashleigh | The New York Times) Permission Details DMCA
Tobacco companies are panicking. The number of smokers in the US continues to decline, so the merchants of death count on smokers in foreign nations (mainly emerging nations) to continue to pad their wallets. But there's a problem -- the governments of these countries want to protect their citizens from these cancer sticks, and therein lies the problem for Big "Baccky." So they're resorting to mafiaesque tactics to "convince" these overprotective governments to allow their poison on the shelves. The Telegram has more:
"Tobacco companies are pushing back against a worldwide rise in anti-smoking laws, using a little-noticed legal strategy to delay or block regulation. The industry is warning countries that their tobacco laws violate an expanding web of trade and investment treaties, raising the prospect of costly, prolonged legal battles, health advocates and officials said.
"The strategy has gained momentum in recent years as smoking rates in rich countries have fallen and tobacco companies have sought to maintain access to fast growing markets in developing countries.
Alarmed about rising smoking rates among young women, Namibia, in southern Africa, passed a tobacco control law in 2010 but quickly found itself bombarded with stern warnings from the tobacco industry that the new statute violated the country's obligations under trade treaties.
"'We have bundles and bundles of letters from them,' said Namibia's health minister, Dr. Richard Kamwi.
"Three years later, the government, fearful of a punishingly expensive legal battle, has yet to carry out a single major provision of the law, like limiting advertising or placing large health warnings on cigarette packaging.
"In Africa, at least four countries -- Namibia, Gabon, Togo and Uganda -- have received warnings from the tobacco industry that their laws run afoul of international treaties, said Patricia Lambert, director of the international legal consortium at The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.
"'They're trying to intimidate everybody,' said Jonathan Liberman, director of the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer in Australia, which gives legal support to countries that have been challenged by tobacco companies. Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, said in a speech last year that legal actions against Uruguay, Norway and Australia were 'deliberately designed to instill fear' in countries trying to reduce smoking.
"'The wolf is no longer in sheep's clothing, and its teeth are bared,' she said."
Poor tobacco companies, these pesky governments are interfering with their legal right to kill their citizens.
Tobacco and Firearms, are there two more powerful lobbies? And -- coincidentally -- two of the deadliest products? Tobacco and guns are the only two legal products that -- if used exactly as designed -- will kill you. As we saw after the Newtown tragedy (and the 30,000 gun deaths since that day), there is no chance that our Congressional "leaders" will ever act to regulate guns. Nor are they likely to act restrain these kinds of shameful strong-arm tactics by tobacco companies, either.
Perhaps some enterprising member of Congress could tie a bill to repeal Obamacare to a measure to regulate the ownership of assault rifles, or restrictions on the tobacco companies from these kinds of schemes. Maybe they could trick a Teabagger into supporting it that way?