Curbs sought

On tobacco trade

Published: Thursday 15 April 2004

Highlighting the flipside of liberalisation, experts have called for excluding tobacco from free trade agreements to protect health. Their appeal comes at a time when the eu and the South American trading bloc, Mercosur, are negotiating such a pact. Both the parties have been urged to set a precedent by adopting the stringent measure against tobacco.

Eduardo Bianco, representative of the Medical Union of Uruguay, and Sinead Jones, director of Tobacco Control Resource Centre, uk, have described tobacco as a uniquely harmful consumer product in a letter published in the British Medical Journal (Vol 328, No 7439, March 6, 2004).

The debate on tobacco trade dates back to the late 1980s when the us got many Asian countries to open their markets to its tobacco products. It didn't succeed in Thailand initially. But the latter had to relent after the us complained to the disputes panel of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

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