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Tobacco Companies Using Legal Strategies To Block Regulation In Developing Countries

“Tobacco companies are pushing back against a worldwide rise in antismoking laws, using a little-noticed legal strategy to delay or block regulation,” the New York Times reports. 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,” the newspaper states. “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 newspaper writes, adding, “Industry officials say that there are only a few cases of active litigation, and that giving a legal opinion to governments is routine for major players whose interests will be affected.”

“But tobacco opponents say the strategy is intimidating low- and middle-income countries from tackling one of the gravest health threats facing them: smoking,” according to the New York Times. “They also say the legal tactics are undermining the world’s largest global public health treaty, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which aims to reduce smoking by encouraging limits on advertising, packaging and sale of tobacco products,” the newspaper writes, discusses global smoking trends and examines how this legal strategy has affected a number of countries (Tavernise, 12/13).