Don't Let the Bush Administration Destroy
the World's First Public Health Treaty!

Philip Morris: Driving a Global Epidemic

Tobacco-related illness is fast becoming the world's leading cause of death, currently claiming 4.9 million lives per year. As smoking rates drop in wealthy countries, the tobacco industry is increasingly targeting economically poor countries as "expansion markets." With images like the Marlboro Man, Big Tobacco promotes its deadly product to young people in an effort to addict new customers. With $73 billion in annual revenues, Philip Morris is the leader of an industry that uses its power and influence to undermine public health policy worldwide.

The FCTC: A Groundbreaking Challenge to Corporate Abuse

More than 150 countries have come together to negotiate the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the world's first public health treaty. The vast majority of the world's nations are committed to a strong, enforceable treaty that includes a total ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, as well as the concept that protecting public health should be prioritized over international trade in tobacco.

The US: Blocking Progress on the Treaty

The FCTC is in its final stages: after four years of negotiations, the treaty is scheduled to be adopted in May 2003. The US and a handful of other wealthy countries with strong ties to the tobacco industry have been doing Philip Morris's dirty work and undermining progress on the treaty. With close ties to Big Tobacco, the Bush administration is out of step with the public in its obstructionist positions on the treaty. Only one FCTC negotiating session remains (February 17-28, 2003) - the US must step aside and let the majority of countries, who are calling for a strong, enforceable FCTC, move ahead.

US Obstructionism and the FCTC

The US has consistently prioritized the interests of Philip Morris and the tobacco industry over public health in the FCTC process. At the most recent round of talks, the delegation argued against proposals supported by the majority of countries in key areas including tobacco advertising and prioritizing public health over trade:

  • The vast majority of countries, including most of Europe, strongly advocated a total ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. The US opposed a ban on the grounds that the US Constitution would not allow it. US negotiators continued to use this argument even when the proposed language called for an ad ban "within constitutional limits".
  • Over 100 countries spoke in favor of prioritizing public health over trade in tobacco, which would set a dramatic global precedent for other issues where human rights and environmental protection come into conflict with powerful economic interests. The US argued in favor of weak language that would subordinate the FCTC to other international trade agreements.

Why is the US doing Philip Morris's dirty work?

The tobacco industry gave $7.3 million in the last election cycle-more than half of the industry's soft money donations came from Philip Morris alone. The Bush administration has close ties with the tobacco industry, including:

  • Karl Rove, a senior advisor to the President and one of the most powerful voices on the Bush team, was a lobbyist and consultant for Philip Morris - receiving over $150,000 from the company - before serving in the Bush Administration.
  • Tommy Thompson, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the office which oversees the US delegation to the FCTC as well as the FDA), maintained an open-door policy with Philip Morris as Governor of Wisconsin, receiving $70,000 in campaign contributions from the tobacco giant.

Other Sources of Information:

Framework Convention Alliance