WHO Drafts Treaty To Fight Illicit Tobacco Trade; WTO Demands Obama Administration Drop Ban On Flavored Cigarettes

“Nations have crafted a draft treaty to fight a booming trade in illicit tobacco products that’s costing governments as much as $50 billion a year in lost tax revenue, officials said Wednesday,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. “But there are notable holdouts to the negotiations — the United States, Indonesia and more than a dozen other nations — where the treaty would have no effect,” the news agency writes (4/4). According to the WHO, tobacco-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, and other illnesses, kill almost six million people annually, Reuters notes. “Formally a protocol to the 2005 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the world’s first public health pact, the new agreement was reached after nearly five years of negotiations, including a fifth and final round this past week,” the news agency writes (Nebehay, 4/4).

In related news, “The World Trade Organization [WTO] demanded Wednesday that the Obama administration drop or amend its ban on flavored cigarettes that are used to target minors,” the Hill’s “Healthwatch” blog writes, noting the ban on “chocolate and other flavored cigarettes [exists] under a bipartisan 2009 law that gave the Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products” (Pecquet, 4/4). “Democrats and the Obama administration voiced disappointment with” the WTO report, CQ HealthBeat writes, noting, “Because the WTO report does not affect the law, the ban is still in place.” Trade Representative spokesperson Nkenge Harmon said, “The Obama Administration is committed to protecting the public health and will continue to vigorously pursue public health measures in a way that is consistent with United States trade obligations,” according to the news service (Ethridge, 4/4).

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