Large tobacco companies that operation multinationally and earn billions of dollars a year off of an unhealthy addictive drug often fight poor nations. They fight poor nations in the courts and the markets when those poor nations try to increase the well being of their citizens by managing tobacco sales. Recently Uruguay won a legal battle agains Phillip Morris (part of Altria) through the International Centre for Investment Disputes – it’s a massive victory too!
First, the Uruguay case will embolden other governments who have the political will to fight the tobacco epidemic but have been understandably circumspect about the possibility of multi-million dollar litigation. But the fact that Uruguay won is not the only positive lesson from the case. PMI and other tobacco multinationals have nearly limitless resources – they can launch cases even when they are sure they will lose.
Second, Uruguay did not stand alone. Philanthropists (especially former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg), civil society and academics lined up to support the government, committing both funding and in-kind help. PMI’s vast resources and the power that unfortunately often seems to flow from immorality were trumped by solidarity and a confidence of being on the right side of history. David had only his sling and stone. Uruguay had a volunteer army. Mayor Bloomberg, along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have already set up an emergency fund to support other countries who fall into Big Tobacco’s cross-hairs. Those governments can count on the same army of volunteers.
Thanks to Delaney!
Canadian provinces and cities are sticking up to big tobacco and laying down the law to protect the health of people who choose not to smoke.
Alberta has followed previous examples of smoking bans and now has chosen to become the exemplar of smoking bans. The law came into effect on Jan 1, so smokers are obviously still adjusting to the change, and non-smokers are adjusting to cleaner air (I guess).
The new law, one of the toughest in Canada, will ban smoking in any public building, including restaurants and bars.
Many larger cities and towns already have bylaws that restrict smoking, but the new provincial law will ban smoking right across the province.
Anti-smoking groups say the new provincial legislation puts the province ahead of just about every other jurisdiction.
Last month a small town in Nova Scotia banned smoking in cars with children passengers. Last year we mentioned that Quebec and Ontario are nearly smoke-free.
It’s great to see how all these places are limiting where one can smoke as second hand smoke, and smoking itself, is harmful. Now New Brunswick is jumping on the no smoking in cars bandwagon with more provinces to follow.
Michael Murphy, [New Brunswick’s] health minister, told CTV Halifax that he’s concerned that the tobacco industry is targeting kids. He also said that New Brunswick residents may want to consider the possibility of a smoking ban in cars with kids.
British Columbia and the Yukon are considering similar legislation. Ontario politicians have also started to debate vehicle smoking bans.
Studies show that the concentration of toxins in a smoke-filled car is 23 times greater than a smoky bar. Yet, one in five children are exposed to smoke in a car on a regular basis.