Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Poll Analyses
Share on Facebook 5 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
General News    H2'ed 11/12/14

Uruguay Presents Defense Against Philip Morris Tobacco Lawsuit

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   1 comment
Author 86410
Message Corp Watch
Uruguayan tobacco packaging. Photo: Andrew Sorensen.
Uruguayan tobacco packaging. Photo: Andrew Sorensen.
(Image by Corp Watch)
  Details   DMCA

Reprinted from

Uruguay has presented a 500 page document to defend itself against an international lawsuit challenging the country's tough tobacco packaging regulations. The claim was brought by Philip Morris, the global tobacco giant, at the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington DC.

Philip Morris filed the original complaint on February 19, 2010, claiming that Uruguay's laws were a violation of a 1991 bilateral investment treaty between Uruguay and Switzerland. The company says that legal requirements that graphic warnings about the health hazards of smoking must cover most of the surface area of cigarette packets have harmed the company's trademarks and profits.

"The large size of these warnings prevents us from effectively displaying our trademarks and goes beyond what could reasonably be considered appropriate to inform consumers of the well-established health risks of smoking," Morgan Rees, a spokesperson for Philip Morris, told Investment Arbirtation Reporter. "This is without precedent anywhere in the world."

On October 13, 2014, Paul Reichler, a lawyer with Foley Hoag, in Washington DC, responded on behalf of the Uruguayan government, citing the country's obligations under the World Health Organisation's 2005 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

"We will fight because it is our right and duty as a government to protect our citizens' health," Silvina Echarte Acevedo, the legal adviser leading the Uruguayan ministry of public health's case, told the Independent newspaper. "They are bullying us because we are small. This is like David and Goliath." (Uruguay's annual gross domestic product is $53 billion, less than that of Philip Morris which took in $80 billion last year)

Governments around the world are watching the outcome as they begin to consider similar tobacco packaging laws to curb the $756 billion global industry. "They wanted to make an example of Uruguay," says Matt Myers, the executive.director of Tobacco Free Kids, a U.S. NGO. "It was a message designed to be global."

There is no doubt that Uruguay's strict tobacco packaging laws, which were first introduced in 2005, have had already had a major impact on local cigarette sales. After companies were required to print photos of premature babies, decaying teeth, and hospital operations on cigarette packages, smoking rates dropped from 33 percent to 12 percent among Uruguayan teenagers and from 40 percent to 23 percent among adults.

Since the 2010 complaint to the ICSID, Philip Morris has expanded its war on national tobacco packaging regulations. In 2011, the company sued Australia in local courts over the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act, but lost. The company has now appealed the decision to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, claiming that 2011 law violates a 1993 bilateral treaty between Australia and Hong Kong.

Philip Morris has been more successful with a 2013 lawsuit in Thailand where courts have ordered the temporary suspension of a new tobacco packaging law. It is not alone in this fight - Japan Tobacco, another major tobacco giant, has also sued Thailand click here

Next Page  1  |  2


Well Said 2   News 2   Supported 2  
Rate It | View Ratings

Corp Watch Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

CorpWatch: Non-profit investigative research and journalism to expose corporate malfeasance and to advocate for multinational corporate accountability and transparency. We work to foster global justice, independent media activism and democratic control over corporations.

We seek to expose multinational corporations that profit from war, fraud, environmental, human rights and other abuses, and to provide critical information to foster a more informed public and an effective democracy.

Click here for our 2010-2011 Combined Report
Click here for our 2007-2009 Combined Report
Click here for our 2006 Annual Report
Click here for our 2005 Annual report
Click here for our 2004 Annual report

Our guiding vision is to promote human, environmental, social and worker rights at the local, national and global levels by making corporate practices more transparent and holding corporations accountable for their actions.

As independent investigative researchers and journalists, we provide critical information to foster a more informed public and an effective democracy.

We believe the actions, decisions, and policies undertaken and pursued by private corporations have very real impact on public life — from individuals to communities around the world. Yet few mechanisms currently exist to hold them accountable for those actions. As a result, it falls to the public sphere to protect the public interest.

In many cases, corporate power and influence eclipses even the democratic
political process itself as they exert disproportional influence on public policy they deem detrimental to their narrow self-interests. In less developed nations, they usurp authority altogether, often purchasing government complicity for unfair practices at the expense of economic, environmental, human, labor and social rights. 

Yet despite the very public impact of their actions and decisions, corporations remain bound to be accountable solely to their own private financial considerations and the interests of their shareholders. They have little incentive, nor requirement, for public transparency regarding their decisions and practices, let alone concrete accountability for their ultimate impact.

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

U.S. Air Force Hires Private Companies To Fly Drones In War Zones

Boeing Helps Kill Proposed Law to Regulate Drones

Coca-Cola Forced To Shut Bottling Plant in India

H&M Responds Slowly to Bangladesh Factory Collapse Killing 1,100

ACLU Reveals FBI Hacking Contractors

CorpWatch : Commodity Scams: Barclays, Goldman & JP Morgan Under Fire

To View Comments or Join the Conversation: