Jan. 27, 2014 – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes as part of The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) sent a letter today to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) urging him to exclude tobacco and tobacco products when negotiating all international trade and investment agreements. This would preserve the ability of state and local governments to regulate tobacco products to reduce use and protect the public health.
Negotiations are currently underway for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and the USTR’s draft proposal addressing tobacco would not adequately protect state and local regulation, according to NAAG.
“As the chief legal officers of our states, we are concerned about any development that could jeopardize the states’ ability to enforce their laws and regulations relating to tobacco products,” reads the NAAG letter signed by 45 state and territorial attorneys general. “Experience has shown that state and local laws and regulations may be challenged by tobacco companies that aggressively assert claims under bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements. Such agreements can enable these tobacco companies to challenge federal, state and local laws and regulations under standards and in forums that would not be available under United States law.”
The attorneys general believe “there is no policy justification for including tobacco products in agreements that are intended to promote and expand trade and investment generally.”
In 1998 Utah was 1 of 46 states to participate in a series of Medicaid lawsuits against the tobacco industry that led to a settlement of $42 million dollars annually paid to the State of Utah.
The NAAG letter can be found here: https://www.naag.org/sign-on_archive.php