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Big Tobacco's Deadly Attack


World  (tags: USA, Political and Judiciary Corruption, Uruguay, France, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Tobacco Giants, Corporate Profit, Health Worldwide )

Eleonora
- 1502 days ago - secure.avaaz.org
The tobacco giant Philip Morris is suing Uruguay for having some of the best anti-smoking laws in the world, and thereâEUR(TM)s a good chance it could win, unless we step in.



   

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Comments

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 5:39 am

Petition Text - those who understand German may want to click on the German link as their text is much more detailed and elaborate!

"The tobacco giant Philip Morris is suing Uruguay for having some of the best anti-smoking laws in the world, and there’s a good chance it could win, unless we step in.

It's a scary reality: a single company, with a product that kills, could overturn laws that protect our health. This court has already come under fire for not listening to the public in similar lawsuits. Let's ensure they listen now: if we launch a giant call and work with a world class legal team to carry our voices into the courtroom, the judges won’t be able to turn a blind eye.

Let’s tell the court that this doesn’t just affect Uruguay -- if Big Tobacco gets their way, it opens the door for challenges everywhere -- at least 4 other countries are in the legal crosshairs, and many more have anti-smoking laws at risk.

We have to move fast -- the court is already hearing arguments. Click to protect our public health and our democracies from corporate greed -- each of our names will be submitted to the court."

 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 5:51 am

Let me make one thing clear - I'm not against smoking if consideration for non-smokers is exercised neither am I a fanatic ex-smoker cum non-smoker. I still enjoy my social cigarette on the occasion and as long as we all acknowledge that the others have their rights too - non-smokers as well as smokers - then we can live together in peace they way it used to be before the pro and con camp got fanaticized.

BUT what I am totally against is this hypocrisy and blatant double standards which we see time and again by big Western corporations in tandem with the judicial system as well as politicians.

Way back then already - talking about the late 80's when smoking was not yet so outlawed - I remember having read an extensive article about US tobacco producers who threatened to seek sanctions against Japan if Japan would not open its market to their tobacco products. Then I was outraged and so am I today after having received above petition from a German friend on Care2. Thank you, Artur!!

We can't force people to abstain from smoking in every possible way indoors and in some places outdoors too, impose all kind of extra health care premiums on smokers, make them social outlaws, etc. and at the same time allow that Big Business is suing countries who do their very best - and are SUCCESSFULL and that's the real problem! - to re-educate its people to become non-smokers.

Please help to stop Philip Morris and the likes to bully its way through all laws and make a mockery of the legislation all for an extra buck or two on the back of our health and our taxpayers money!

Thank you for signing, noting and spreading this petition!
 

Artur B (125)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 6:10 am
Danke fürs weiterleiten und den tollen Kommentar
 

Teresa W (782)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 6:13 am
already signed, thank you
 

Giana Peranio Paz (398)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 6:17 am
Eleonora, I am an ex smoker, and only did so when I was anxious or full of fear. Cigarettes always have a negative emotion accompanying them for me. A lot of guilt too. The trouble is that people smoke next to me outdoors and I get an immediate headache and feel awful. Everyone knows that they are a contributor to most terrible diseases and a cause of many deaths. I still get angry at smokers for not being smart enough to take care of themselves, although I used to smoke. If they smoked in their own homes it would be fine but they smoke in the street and everywhere in Israel. All addictions are bad and a good psychologist might do the trick. Anyway, of course I signed and hope the whole world had such legislation, protecting innocent peoples' health.
 

Giana Peranio Paz (398)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 6:23 am
Will track comments.
 

Lynda GettingBetter (123)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 6:28 am
Thank you, Eleonora. I hope Uruguay can stand up to the bullies.
 

Evelyn B (63)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 6:33 am
I'm a smoker - but I hate hypocrisy and I hate bullying tactics by big business in any form -

So, signed
 

Angelika R (143)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 6:35 am
Thx, Eleonora for posting! Already signed. This is not the first time Philip Morris is playing their dirty game, even if they would loose this time,be sure they'll be back!
 

Evelyn B (63)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 6:35 am
This is also the kind of bullying that the TPP & TIPP will endorse if these trade treaties are allowed through - because bif companies will be able to sue governments for loss of revenue when governments adopt laws counter to big business interests ...
 

Angelika R (143)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 6:37 am
...funny you would choose a pic of the smoking US president :-) - LOL -guess it'd be kind of difficult to picture him with substitute chewing gum ;)
 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 6:58 am

Gern geschehen, Artur! Danke fuer das Zusenden.

Giana, I fully understand where you're coming from. I grew up in a time when smoking was viewed just as another normal pass-time thing. But still - when we started smoking we were told to always make sure that it doesn't bother those around us; indoor for sure and outdoor we ask since a number of years if the tables are too close together. Smoking in the street was never on; not lady-like my Mom told me ;-) and I agree with her. What bothers me most and turns my stomach is the smell of cold smoke in the morning. So yes - I understand what you mean.

Ros - you're like me in that; if I don't like the laws I don't go there ;-).

What I'd like to see enacted too is a law that limits the number of cars in the streets and even more important the number of planes at any given time in the sky. There was a time where we travelled regularly to the States and every time we approached an airport by car I had breathing problems, got nausea, almost passed out a number of times (Dallas, Houston, NYC and Tulsa - pollution because of the non-stop stream of landing and take-offs) and a number of other temporary health problems. But such issues are untouchable as it is big business.

And frankly - we are fooling ourselves if we believe that we truly achieve something with the various anti-smoking laws. The only action that would truly bring results is a ban on tobacco plantation and production of any kind of related products. IF it is as dangerous as the fanatics claim - then we should hear them since decades demanding a closure of all tobacco producing companies. Strange that they don't ...

On the other hand ... the Taliban teamed up with the UN to fight the Opium production and brought it down to almost nothing during their regime (197 to/per year). Afghanistan accounted for approx. 9% of the world supply under the Taliban. With the US in charge and after Afghanistan has received "Freedom and Democracy" on the wings of B52 bombers the production soared to unseen heights; Afghanistan supplies the world now with some 90% of its Opium. ... There's nothing as good for Big Corrupt Business like "Freedom and Democracy" in foreign lands ...
 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 7:07 am

Appreciate you signing, Evelyn - I felt there must be something extra that I like you ... other than your well written comments ;-).

Thank you for bringing in TPP & TIPP - this is EXACTLY the reason why we must fight them with all we have and demand transparency.

~*~*~*~*~

On a side note and honestly - can anyone picture Humphrey Bogart having the sex appeal he had without his cigarette and the blues smoke slowly lifting and his irresistible look appearing?! Tempi passati. Today we have this little human robots cum actors who get produced somewhere a dime a dozen and don't make any lasting impression. Although ... this is not attributable to the lack of cigarettes - LOL!

Thank you all!!
 

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 7:21 am
Just signed-thx Eleonora
 

Angelika R (143)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 7:27 am
Certainly TTIP (not TIPP) was meant here and as for that it does not look good since the European Parliament is hell bent to sign it, particularly our stupid US slave chancellor, all for the (much more expensive!) LNG supply from the US, once that will be established in a few years. All for the sake of punishing Russia which has been supplying us for decades in a fair and reliable way.
 

fly bird (26)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 8:00 am
signed,thks Eleonora
 

Mary T (356)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 10:30 am
thank you Eleonora - signed, noted & shared
 

Sheryl G (359)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 11:19 am
I certainly signed, having lost a husband to cancer, directly related to smoking, I encourage everyone to quit that hasn't done so and not to start if they haven't tried. Cigarettes is a product is used correctly has negative health results. I know some people manage to smoke for years with no apparent medical issues, but far too many are not so lucky.

When my husband was given his medical findings he looked like a deer caught in the headlights, because like so many people, certainly he wasn't going to be the one to die from smoking. But reality came knocking and it left me a young widow with two children to still raise alone. He never got to see them become fully grown nor to meet his two grandchildren, I've had a much harder life without him. I was in hopes of having someone sitting next to me in those rocking chairs looking back at life, now I do it alone and not one day goes by that I don't feel this loss out of my life.

Any Country that is trying to protect it's citizens against a known killer should not be undermined. Most of the laws to protect people have been long in the coming and have had many people both non smokers and former smokers alike pushing for smoking to become less attractive. I do not push for a total ban, as I still do believe in the rights of others to make their choice as long as that smoke doesn't infringe upon me. Most smokers that I know take great pain to sit on the side where the wind blows it away and certainly doesn't smoke in my home or car. I don't believe anyone should smoke where children would be exposed. But I do highly encourage the educational knowledge of what smoking can do and what is in the cigarettes and they shouldn't be sold until an age when I feel the brain if fully developed.....about 26. That way an informed choice rather than peer pressure is more at play in the persons decision.

Perhaps that last statement I made about age will rub some the wrong way, but having lost someone so near to me, and being a former smoker myself and knowing how hard it is to stop, but so grateful I did 26 years ago I wish I wasn't able to get my hands on a cigarette until I had gotten myself through those younger ages. Wait until this TPP and TTIP goes through, it will not only be cigarette companies who sue the Countries but they'll sue over everything, protecting the waters, protecting forests, protecting our children, we as a people of each of our Countries will be forced into GMO's, Nuclear Plants, pesticides, unsafe drugs and any number of things in order to protect the Corporate Profit over our rights as a Human Being.
 

Bruce C D (89)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 1:06 pm
Signed, noted. Thank-you, Eleonora.

No offense, but I think people should be informed of the relevant particulars of this, which neither this submission presenting the petition nor the petition itself does.

Phillip Morris is hoping to use tiny Uruguay as an example. They can only bring this lawsuit because Uruguay has a bilateral trade treaty with Switzerland, where Phillip Morris is based. What this is about is the size and scope of the warnings that Uruguay is mandating on packs of cigarettes. Uruguay is requiring 80% of the package display the warnings, and the six different warnings alternatively used are particularly graphic and compelling.

As a legal matter, Phillip Morris does have a case. As a moral matter, Uruguay obviously is in the right.
 

Athena F (131)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 1:07 pm
Thank you, signed, noted
 

Lynn Squance (235)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 1:07 pm
Already signed from an Avaaz e-mail. I am not a fanatic anti-smoker but I have asthma and smoking sets it off. So yes, I am an anti tobacco.

Philip-Morris' action is the kind of action that the global community can expect as a result of the TPP. The ones that will benefit will be the corporations and the lawyers. As I understand things, under the TPP, law suits will not be heard by the law courts but by tribunals in private. Even under NAFTA there are law suits.

"An electronic copy of a quietly filed lawsuit was unearthed, exposing oil and gas company Lone Pine Resources moving forward with a $250-million North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) lawsuit against Canada over Quebec’s moratorium on fracking for oil and gas underneath the St. Lawrence River." Lone Pine Resources Files Outrageous NAFTA Lawsuit Against Fracking Ban
 

Jeannet Bertelink (74)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 2:20 pm
Signed, thanks Eleonora
 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 3:22 pm

Thanks Dandelion, Bruce and Lynn for your insightful comments.

Bruce, the German text is much more elaborate and does go into much details. What I forgot is the fact that Philip Morris has it's legal seat in Switzerland - shame on me!! Had to immediately double-up my email to my friends and family members back home to put pressure on our government. Hope they'll act and organize the necessary!

What I don't quite understand is: why does Philip Morris have a legal case? For all I know I, as a sovereign country, have the right to enforce the national laws of the country on product importers. A long as PM has space to display its name there's nothing they can argue IMO. I just checked the cigs of my hubby (a PM brand) - the packet is 8.8 cm, the logo is 8 mm, the name is 1.8 cm ... so where is the problem really?

Our laws require that the warning - which is VERY graphic! - takes up min. 50%; the warning on the imported ones take up between 30 and 55%. It's legal nit-picking at its best and again - a waste of taxpayers money for really nothing.

Would you care to elaborate in order for me to get a better understanding about the legality of the case if you can? Thanks a lot!
 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 4:59 pm

Hi Ros - and what is "ICE"? I assume it's not the plain good ol' ice I know ...

Agreed - this law is sure going to far especially if it singles out one product only as you say. One can take this whole hype about health and addiction to a new level if one would also put labels on all the junk food with obese people and their illnesses which are caused by their obesity. Where do we stop? And where is our own responsibility as adults as well as parents? It's a slippery road once one starts on it.
 

pam w (139)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 5:54 pm
We've exported our PRODUCT OF DEATH around the world. I hope the intelligent people of Uruguay will prevail.

My husband died of smoking-related COPD. If you've ever seen that disease....you will NEVER support smoking again.
 

Elizabeth Brawn (25)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 7:57 pm
thanks for info
 

Walter F (128)
Sunday April 12, 2015, 11:20 pm
Signed Elenora
 

Barb SiteIssues V (202)
Monday April 13, 2015, 5:18 am
Signed & Noted, Thank you
 

Bruce C D (89)
Monday April 13, 2015, 6:42 am
@Eleonora--
I'm not a lawyer, nor am I familiar with all the details of the trade agreement between Switzerland and Uruguay that pertains to this. But if I could be permitted to play devil's advocate for a moment, you should be able to understand why I feel PM has a case. And by case, it wasn't to imply that their lawsuit will necessarily prevail in arbitration. It only means that I think they have valid arguments to present a case and both a legal right and a vested interest to do so. I may not agree with it, but I don't see it as a frivolous lawsuit.

I didn't get around to responding earlier, and now I see Ros has already provided some of the same points I was going to present. Thanks a bunch, Ros, for stealing my thunder! ;>)

Who is to blame for taxpayers spending money to defend these lawsuits? Isn't it really the governments of the countries that enact such strict legislation, likely knowing full well (or should well have known) they will face legal challenges? If the onus isn't on them, aren't they at least equally culpable? It's real easy to blame it all on evil tobacco companies, but approached from a non-biased perspective, blame isn't so easy to assign.

And while it is easy to blame tobacco companies, there is no reason for people today not to be aware of the dangers of using tobacco. People are responsible for their own choices, too.

First of all, it seems a logical inference that Phillip Morris would not bring a lawsuit if they didn't think they had a good chance of winning, because what would be the point?

Yes, Uruguay has sovereign rights. However, when a country enters into a treaty with another nation, it voluntarily suspends some of those rights, and the treaty is incorporated into the law of the land. Regardless of how we may feel about certain trade agreements, nations generally agree to them because each sees them as beneficial overall to themselves; they may lose out in some areas, but gain in others. We may not like a certain treaty or treaties, but if nations decide to pick and choose which parts of a treaty they will honor, refusing to abide by their own word and the rule of law, where does that leave us?

Tobacco is a legal product. As Ros already pointed out, alcohol is addictive and probably just as harmful to society, if not more so. Why no big scary labeling for those? And, really, almost any product can be abused. Obesity and its related diseases is a big killer. Should we start requiring onerous labeling on sweets and fatty foods because people are eating too much of them?

Some nations, such as Mexico, have enacted regulations requiring 50% of the labeling on a pack of cigarettes be composed of the warnings. Even that seems a bit excessive. 80% leaves very little room for brand names and trademark logos. And where does it stop? What about the next nation that arbitrarily decides to require 90% of the packaging, or if Uruguay next year increases their requirement to 99%, because the government decides people aren't quitting smoking fast enough? As Ros pointed out with the interesting factoid about Australia's requirement for generic packaging for cigarettes, where they all start to look the same, it starts bordering on the absurd. Can Phillip Morris really be faulted for wanting to draw the line somewhere? Note that--similar to Australia's Attorney General who lost a loved one to cancer that Ros also mentioned--Uruguay's president is an oncologist.

As a corporation headquartered in Switzerland, that nation benefits from the sales PM generates, and onerous regulations can be viewed as little different than onerous tariffs that unfairly restrict trade. What if Switzerland were to retaliate by placing onerous regulations on products from Uruguay corporations? Which is why trade agreements, even where imperfect, can be better than the alternatives.

Kind of backwards, but the following was compiled using several sources after subsequent research, and more clearly explains the legal aspects. Interesting that it reiterates some of my reasoning, particularly the last line.

Philip Morris v. Uruguay case Background:
In March 2008 the Uruguay legislature approved Law 18.256 which includes six strategies of anti-smoking policy. Some of the measures by the government were the ban on selling different types of presentations of the same brand of cigarettes, the dissemination of images warning about the risks of smoking and covering at least 80% of the cigarette pack, raising of taxes, banning cigarette advertising in the media, and banning sponsorship of sporting events.
Three Philip Morris International companies (“PMI”) initiated international arbitration proceedings against Uruguay on February 19, 2010, claiming that the country violated multiple provisions of the Uruguay-Switzerland Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). The BIT, which is one of more than twenty the country has entered into, provides protections for investments made in Uruguay, including brands, intellectual property, and ongoing business enterprises. PMI claims that two regulations implemented by Uruguay in 2009 breach the protections guaranteed by the BIT and damage their investments in the country.
PMI is making these claims before an international tribunal, which consists of three arbitrators, in accordance with the rules of the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). The tobacco company initiated the claim in the ICSID. In that forum, an arbitration tribunal was formed with one arbitrator appointed by each party and a third arbitrator elected by the arbitrators appointed by the parties. The plaintiffs are FTR Holding SA (Switzerland), Philip Morris Products SA (Switzerland) and Abal Hermanos SA (PMI representative in Uruguay) against Uruguay (ICSID Case No. ARB/10/7).
Philip Morris International is a multinational company, a leading producer of cigarettes, of which it owns seven out of twenty global brands.
"We have no choice but to litigate" said Rees. The company said it has sought to dialogue with the government without success.
—Morgan Rees, Director Communications Regulatory Philip Morris International, in 2010.
Philip Morris has filed similar cases against Norway and Australia.
The proceedings involve two stages:
Stage 1: Jurisdiction
Uruguay filed a preliminary challenge to whether the Tribunal has jurisdiction to make a decision regarding PMI’s claims. Arguments on the jurisdictional issues took place on 5-6 February 2013 in Paris. On July 2, 2013 the Tribunal ruled that it does have jurisdiction, taking this case to the second stage.
Stage 2: Merits
The parties currently are briefing the merits of PMI’s claims that Uruguay breached the BIT. A hearing on the merits of the dispute likely will be held in the third quarter of 2015, and we anticipate that a decision will be issued in late 2015 or the first half of 2016.
The two regulations PMI opposes are:
1. “Single Presentation” Ordinance: This regulation restricts competition to the detriment of foreign investors because it prohibits sales of more than one variation of cigarettes under a single brand name. For example, Marlboro Red, Gold, Blue and Green cannot be sold at the same time. Only one of those variants may be in the market. As a result, PMI was forced to withdraw 7 out of 12 cigarette varieties from sale in the country.
2. 80% Health Warning Requirement: Until 2009, health warning labels covered 50% of cigarette packaging in Uruguay, an amount PMI did not oppose. Uruguay increased the size to 80% on both the front and back of the pack, despite the fact that the 2009 2. Global Adult Tobacco Survey found that the awareness of the health risks of smoking is universal in the country. This requirement violates Uruguay’s BIT agreement because it leaves virtually no space on the pack for the display of legally protected trademarks.
These measures go beyond the tobacco regulations enacted in virtually every country and have not been shown to reduce smoking rates. They also do nothing to address, and could further promote, the proliferation of black market cigarettes, which in 2009 amounted to nearly 1 in 4 of all tobacco products consumed in Uruguay.
PMI is not seeking to overturn any other tobacco control regulations in Uruguay, such as public place smoking restrictions, advertising restrictions, or reasonably sized graphic warnings on cigarette packs that accurately depict the health risks of smoking. In fact, PMI supported regulation in these areas.
PMI is seeking approximately $25 million USD for actual damages caused by the regulations, including to our Uruguayan affiliate. Those damages are the direct result of Uruguay’s decision to disregard its commitments to investors, which include respecting and protecting investments such as intellectual property rights. The heart of this case focuses on such fundamental principles as the rule of law and whether or not Uruguay must keep the promises it makes.


 

Dianna M (16)
Monday April 13, 2015, 1:40 pm
Dear Phillip Morris: I've never smoked, and I never will. Sue me.
 

Birgit W (160)
Monday April 13, 2015, 2:07 pm
Just signed. Thank you.
 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Monday April 13, 2015, 4:30 pm

Thanks a lot for your detailed answer, Bruce - GS on it's way! I do agree with your initial paragraph outlining the logic and ratio which we all should use.

This notwithstanding it is very telling in itself that PM has chosen Uruguay as the guinea-pig for their lawsuit. If successful France, Norway, Finland and New Zealand are next on the list to be sued (German text of the petition). Why not France first? Or any other of the first world countries who have some more "grip and handle"?

"What if Switzerland were to retaliate by placing onerous regulations on products from Uruguay corporations?" I love your (willing or unwilling) humour. While Uruguay is called the Switzerland of South America (for its big Swiss colony as well as Swiss style Parliament and Banking System) we import "peanuts" from there. If memory serves me right somewhere worth around 50 Mio CHF annually.

We'll see how it works out. Thanks again for your time and effort!
 

Bruce C D (89)
Monday April 13, 2015, 8:34 pm
@Eleonora--

If you'll notice, buried in the information it states that PMI has already filed against Norway and Australia. I didn't imagine the trade between Switzerland and Uruguay (either way) was all that great; the hypothetical was just an example to demonstrate what could happen between any two given nations under such circumstances. But I trust you understood the point was about the principle. In my initial comment here, I did state that PMI was using tiny Uruguay as an example. It can be seen as bullying, but it also makes sense from a legal strategy viewpoint for them--easier to pluck the low-hanging fruit first. It must also be taken into account that Uruguay passed the most onerous regulations of any nation, causing PMI to remove over half of its brands.

@Ros--
I've been a smoker for nearly 40 years, albeit a light-to-moderate one, but I'm also supportive of efforts to reduce smoking. The problem is, as seen in the information above, these onerous regulations aren't really all that effective. The tax in the U.S. on cigarettes and cigarette tobacco increased quite a bit, while the tax on cigars and pipe tobacco remained the same. Guess which economic class mostly smokes cigarettes and which economic class mostly smokes cigars and pipes? If you guessed the poor and the more well-off, respectively, you were correct. It doesn't appear to have done much to reduce smoking, but it sure is disproportionately hurting poor people financially. Just as there was a big boon in black market cigarettes in Uruguay, here in the U.S. many--such as myself--have simply taken to purchasing pipe tobacco and cigarette tubes, rolling our own cigarettes. In this way, the habit only costs me about $30 a month, which is actually about what I was paying 20-30 years ago--cheaper than before the tax increase. People are always just going to find a way to skirt around such regulations, anyway. And I think most people would find your Australian regulations a bit ridiculous and extreme.

I kind of agree with taxing harmful products like cigarettes, which allows society to recoup the associated costs. It isn't fair to make non-smokers pay for smokers. However, just as when they had the tobacco settlement here when the individual states that sued the tobacco companies in a class-action won, a lot of that money goes to other things instead of being dedicated to smoking related costs and prevention and cessation programs. So there's that, too.
 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Monday April 13, 2015, 11:50 pm

My apologies Bruce - I obviously did a bit a "floppy" reading late lst night :-( and it skipped my attention. You and Ros have good points to which I'd like to come back tonight as I've got to go out in a short while.

Ros - about the WARNING - thanks a lot! I immediately checked and run a full scan now - so far nothing,. Is this a world wide thing or is it Care2 specific? Appreciate any feedback - THANKS!!!
 

heather g (46)
Tuesday April 14, 2015, 1:53 am
Thanks Eleonora,
There are long tentacles of control in all agreements signed with the US.
 

Apolonia Pl (392)
Tuesday April 14, 2015, 4:38 am
N&S...
 

Bruce C D (89)
Tuesday April 14, 2015, 9:05 am
@Ros--

WOW! Talk about Big Brother! That's all a bit too much for me. It seems like the "cure" is worse than the disease. That sounds as if the Australian government is turning people with an addiction to a legal product into criminals, while using them as a cash cow. Nor do I believe any government can ever really completely eradicate the black market, particularly where there is a demand for it. In fact, usually such repressive government policies only contribute to the creation and enlargement of black markets, which also usually only ultimately results in more organized crime, which in turn often leads to more violent crime and more corruption.

What if people grow their own tobacco, but pay the tax on the crop they've grown--wouldn't they be within their rights? Assuming people can smoke in their own homes there, why is smoking in your car (which everyone rolls their window down when smoking in the vehicle, resulting in very little smoke in a car, anyway, especially since it's usually moving) get you a fine, but not if they smoke in their home with their children, which is worse? I'm not advocating that people smoke around children, but that doesn't make any sense. And how does Australia square that with its heavy reliance on mining and burning coal, and its being the largest exporter of coal in the world, exporting millions of tons of coal each year? In terms of public health, that seems far worse than cigarettes. So, Australia doesn't want Australian children to possibly get asthma from being around cigarettes, but they have no problem with all the children in China that contract asthma from the burning of coal there, as long as they can make a buck? Seems more than a bit selfish and hypocritical. Of course, there are other nations one could make similar comparisons, and this isn't to single out just Australia, it's just to point out some of the absurdities involved.
 

Bruce C D (89)
Tuesday April 14, 2015, 9:11 am
@Heather G.--

I tend to agree, but this is not about the U.S.; it involves a treaty between Switzerland and Uruguay.
 

Ed Site Issues V (198)
Tuesday April 14, 2015, 10:17 am
S&N, Thanks
 

Janet B (0)
Tuesday April 14, 2015, 1:10 pm
Thanks
 

Bruce C D (89)
Tuesday April 14, 2015, 6:55 pm
Thanks for the links, Ros. The second would seem to confirm my contention about black markets. Funny thing is, here in the U.S., it is the right-wingers who decry a "nanny state." Which is a gross distortion--we can't even pass universal common-sense gun control regulations. On the other hand, apparently like Australia, it is true that in many respects, both major parties in the U.S. have tilted more rightward over the last few decades.

As a progressive, I generally don't have a problem with government improving the lives of its citizens. But I also believe there is this thing called "moderation", another called "common sense," and yet another known as "tyranny of the majority." I am also very leery of Big Brother, which is what we essentially already have with many intrusive U.S. surveillance programs.
 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Wednesday April 15, 2015, 12:40 am

Great comments, Ros and Bruce - and you took some of my arguments away, Bruce! You've practically said what there was to add in terms of hypocrisy and common sense. To sum it up - it seems to me that the "first world" should be clean and healthy and the rest can rot and incur the problems?! Maybe a bit "over-painted" but ... without wanting to derail ... don't we see this too in the garbage issue with all the "garbage trade" going on to poor third world countries (mostly black Africa) who receive the dirt of Europe and the US?

The fact that the smokers (in this case) are also used as the cash cows of governments explains partially why Tobacco and its various products are not outlawed like e.g. Opium. To mention but one - in Switzerland a big percentage of the tax income from tobacco products goes to the Senior Pension Funds of the government (AHV = Alters- und Hinterlassenen Versicherung).

Heather is correct though in that PM is an American Company although legally it has it's seat in Lausanne - see also PH HQ moving to Switzerland which gives a good overview as to why they moved "officially" to my country. And in no way is Switzerland (or any other country for that matter) truly free in reaching trade agreements with other countries which are of importance in one way or another to the US - let's not fool ourselves.

Excerpt: "Until a spin-off in March 2008, Philip Morris International was an operating company of Altria Group. Altria explained the spin-off, arguing PMI would have more "freedom" outside the constraints of US corporate ownership in terms of potential litigation and legislative restrictions to "pursue sales growth in emerging markets.", ... "

To sum it up - we're (again) kept busy with what I call shadow boxing while the 1% makes big profits in various ways on our backs.

Great world we live in ... :-(




 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Wednesday April 15, 2015, 12:43 am

Thanks Ros re the warning - I naturally checked first my program files and there's nothing. Nevertheless made a full scan just in case and the IT Eng couldn't find anything either last night. So ... hope this was it for my computer and hope that yours is clean again too!!

Thanks for the warning - it's much appreciated!
 

Roslyn M (26)
Wednesday April 15, 2015, 1:21 am
As said before - what's happened to freedom of choice?
 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Wednesday April 15, 2015, 1:36 am

LOL Roslyn - that is only very selectively applicable ... like Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression and so many other "Freedoms" ...
 

Bruce C D (89)
Wednesday April 15, 2015, 3:42 am
@Eleonora--

Yeah, basically PM group rebranded itself Altria in a move to escape negative connotations. It's first spin-off was a divesture of its 84% ownership of Kraft, the food conglomerate. Shortly after, Altria divested itself of PMI. It still holds PM USA. PM USA only sells tobacco in the U.S.

I still don't think its accurate to say this involves the U.S., as whatever past association, PMI is now an independent entity based in Switzerland. The lawsuits are based upon trade agreements Switzerland has with various other nations, and it is upon that basis which the merits of each case will be judged. Evidently, PMI no longer even purchases tobacco from America for its various brands.

Perhaps the U.S. gave birth to the beast, but it's Switzerland's baby now. No need to thank us Americans--you Swiss are quite welcome, Eleonora! ;>)
 

Bruce C D (89)
Wednesday April 15, 2015, 4:38 am
@Ros--

Thanks for the insights into Australian life and politics. Tragic that the crackdown on tobacco there has people turning to other more harmful alternatives to cigarettes. One could say that no good deed goes unpunished, I suppose, but one could also say that it was predictable.

That does indicate a thriving black market, though. I imagine the penalties for distribution of illicit drugs would be much stiffer than that for non-excised tobacco, although profits for the latter presumably aren't as great.
 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Wednesday April 15, 2015, 5:47 am
A very good morning to you, Bruce! You mean to say that after Switzerland adopted the "illegitimate" kid from the US ... it's ours now for good, eh - LOL. OK - then I'd opt to close them down; wonder what the reaction of the original mother would be?!

Regarding black markets and substitute products which you and Ros discussed - may I snatch the role of the advocatus diaboli from you for a moment, Bruce? Maybe the true systems works similar to the Opium production (produced mainly in Afghanistan) which is now under firm control of the US? The very same systems a.k.a. governments that forbid them - opium and (almost) cigarettes - are the ones profiting double via taxes (officially) and via the profits of the black market which they control too? Just thinking aloud and sounding like a conspiracy theorist ... but then ... is it really that far fetched?

Yes Ros - it's always amazing to see how willing people are ready to give up freedoms for which we and/or our forefathers fought so hard, isn't it? They just need to be scared enough first and then one can have almost anything. Fear is known to have a paralyzing effect on the brain and it's used to the fullest. By the time people realize what happened it much too late in the game and utterly difficult to get them back. Usually not without a heavy blood toll.
 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Wednesday April 15, 2015, 5:48 am

Addendum to my para 2 above: Iran Contra comes to mind ...
 

Bruce C D (89)
Wednesday April 15, 2015, 9:46 am
@Eleonora--

No longer a U.S. corporation paying U.S. corporate taxes, the U.S. isn't going to do anything if Switzerland decides to shut down PMI, anymore than if it was any other Swiss company. Why should the U.S. government care? Even if it wanted, there wouldn't be anything the U.S. could do, anyway. As for Atria, the most they might do is perhaps put out a press release in opposition.

No need for convoluted conspiracy theories to explain things. Opium production increased as a consequence of the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban, the latter which had formerly used it to finance itself before subsequently strictly enforcing a religious ban against the crop. Destitute farmers returned to growing the lucrative crop, and newly empowered Afghan warlords became more involved in the illicit trade. The U.S. and its Western allies there have made efforts to curb the trade, but have been hampered by reluctant warlords and a corrupt Afghan government, which takes bribes from those able to pay and shuts down the poorer farmers who cannot. While I think there is some reluctance by the U.S. not to unduly alienate Afghans in fighting the Taliban, there are also limitations and limited resources to stop the trade. I don't see the current situation with the opium trade as being similar to Vietnam or Iran-Contra. It's simply an unintended byproduct.

Nor do I see any evidence whatsoever to support a claim that Australia controls or profits from its black market. Typically black markets exist in defiance of government regulations and taxes, while profiting at its expense. According to Ros, the Australian prosecutes its black market aggressively.
 

Evelyn B (63)
Wednesday April 15, 2015, 3:30 pm
I'm a bit confused about this US/Swiss company discussion ....
I do know there was a very large Philip Morris set up in the early 1980s, referred to as their HQ ... near Lausanne on the way to Geneva if I remember rightly ... I understood at that time that it was their international HQ ???

Anyway **************** to all those providing all the information here! A really interesting thread!
 

Bruce C D (89)
Thursday April 16, 2015, 7:36 am
@Evelyn--

It's possible PMI was formerly headquartered in Switzerland while they were still part of PM group (rebranded Altria), an American corporation. Altria divested itself of PMI circa 2007, and it is now a separate, distinct entity, despite the confusing similar name to PM USA, whose tobacco sales are confined to the U.S.

It is PMI, now a Swiss corporation, that sells tobacco worldwide and is involved with these lawsuits. Incidentally, PM apparently actually first originated in London.
 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Thursday April 16, 2015, 3:41 pm

Hi Bruce - "Nor do I see any evidence whatsoever to support a claim that Australia controls or profits from its black market."

It seems my remark was misunderstood - I didn't mean to insinuate what lead to your above quoted comment. I had more the US in my focus given its past history. Not that I believe any other government is cleaner (I've lost hope that any government is clean anymore) ... it's just that the US has been caught on occasions while others flew so far under the radar ;-).

Ros' last comment is food again for another discussion - which one of the many evils out there are the worst ones and worth fighting? All? None? A few selected? It's a difficult choice and I often feel it's more a question of political interests or exploitation for a personal agenda.

A personal note to the dangers of smoking: after my heart surgery I stopped smoking ... almost; I'm now a social smoker and enjoy it. Talking to my heart surgeon - who is a heavy smoker! - I asked him why he smokes seeing the effects of it under his scalpel all the time. His answer was that he lives in hope to belong to the 10% who will not be affected ... My cardiologist said to my question "what would you have given me as a reason for my heart attack if I were not a smoker?" laughed and said: "Don't you worry - we would have found another reason!" ... although I have none of the other "classical" reasons.

You all stay safe and thanks for the interesting discourse!
 

Eleonora Oldani (37)
Friday April 17, 2015, 1:35 am

Agree Ros - except on your last line. If we were only to sue our politicians in Egypt out of office ... they'd stay for the next 20 years until it's gone through all the courts!!

I believe more and more that we, the people, do have the inherent right to kick the politicians - which WE elected to represent US and OUR interests! - out of their offices the moment they violate their agreement with US, the people. Anywhere in every country - democratic and/or otherwise.

By that I mean people take to the streets and demand that they step down or do their job the way WE want it and be held accountable that the job is done at all time in full transparency. For much too long have we accepted to be once in a while a "dumb-dumb" casting a vote in a ballot box and that's it - we then can go back to sleep for the duration of the next term (generalization I know but I know you get my point). This has to stop! We must take our responsibilities back and participate actively and all the time in shaping the national and international policies of our countries. Our politicians MUST do what's best in OUR interest and not in theirs!

Take the TPP agreement - who gave them the right to negotiate such a far reaching agreement in secrecy and not disclosing all details BEFORE signature? Why don't we have the right - rather the obligation! - to vote on this and similar agreements??

No - I believe we have to go back to kicking butts literally out of office any time; not necessarily French Revolution style but nonetheless ... The politicians must know that they don't have a free ticket after elections to do what they and their (MIC and other big business) friends want them to do.

Viva la revolución ;-)!!
 

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Friday April 24, 2015, 10:12 am
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