Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and death. It will kill 1 billion people globally this century unless governments around the world take significant action. To save lives, countries must implement policies to prevent tobacco use, especially by children. As a mother and someone who has witnessed family members affected by cancer, limiting tobacco use is a simple way to prevent many people from ever getting the disease.
In recent years, tobacco companies have used trade and investment agreements to sue governments that have tried to change packaging or increase health warnings to reduce the marketing attractiveness to youth. These lawsuits — and the threat of future lawsuits — are intended to intimidate countries that are trying to pass tobacco control policies to save lives.
What many people don’t know is that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and investment agreement contains a provision that prevents tobacco companies from using the agreement to challenge tobacco control measures. This will put the United States and our trading partners in a better position to save lives by protecting children and adults from the dangers of tobacco. Congress must now decide whether to approve the agreement. In honor of World No Tobacco Day, which was May 31, I urge U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., to support the TPP and protect kids from tobacco.