Press Release: Smokefree
Members of the Smokefree Coalition are backing calls by health
professionals to Trade Minister Hon Tim Groser, calling for a
comprehensive health impact assessment of the Trans Pacific
Partnership (TPP) Agreement before New Zealand signs the dotted
Kerri Nuku, Kaiwhakahaere of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation
says leaked text in October makes clear the TPP could give
international business interests, such as Big Tobacco, the right to
sue the New Zealand Government if it puts anti-tobacco legislation
in place that will hurt their profits.
"That this trade agreement could impact on decision-making in
the interests of public health is a very real possibility. Current
World Trade Organization (WTO) arbitrations over Australia's plain
packaging legislation are based on trade agreements, which are
stalling a decision on plain packaging here in New Zealand as we
Dr George Laking, Medical Oncologist and Board Member of the
Smokefree Coalition, says New Zealand is a small nation, with a
litigation budget far smaller than that of the tobacco industry
giants, and therefore it would experience the threat of being taken
to international courts by tobacco companies more acutely.
"The chilling effect of this heavy-handed standover tactic using
international trade against Australia is already being felt in New
Zealand, where our Government is adopting a 'wait and see' approach
to plain packs legislation, despite good evidence from across the
Tasman that the measure has lowered smoking rates
"Those results should be what affect decisions on health and
tobacco advertising, but they're not. Instead the Government is
worried it will also be sued, and how much the litigation could
Members of the Smokefree Coalition are concerned at New
Zealand's continued negotiation of the TPP - an even larger trade
agreement that may have clauses that further strengthen foreign
investors' rights to sue.
"The Government's commitment to the Smokefree 2025 Goal is left
between a rock and a hard place, until New Zealand makes a stand
like Australia and regards the value of our public's health gains
more than the risk of litigation. A Health Impact Assessment is
vital to ensure that risk is gone before we sign the dotted line,"
Dr Laking said.