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NEWS: Tobacco lobby claims new law violates WTO and NAFTA

The Canwest News Service reports today that, “The Canadian government is being targeted in a new U.S. advertising campaign that alleges Ottawa’s latest anti-smoking law violates international trade agreements by discriminating against American cigarette imports.”

“In newspaper ads that will run next week in two widely read Capitol Hill newspapers, Kentucky’s burley-tobacco growers say they’ve been side-swiped by legislation that bans candy-flavoured products marketed to youth.”

“Kentucky tobacco growers contend the legislation has been written so broadly, it also bars American-blend cigarettes – including popular brands such as Camel and Winston – that include burley tobacco.”

“The farmers are also preparing a World Trade Organization complaint that contends provisions in Bill C-32, which received royal assent Oct. 8, unfairly outlaws the sale in Canada of American-style cigarettes blended with burley.”

“The tobacco growers also accuse Prime Minister Stephen Harper of hypocrisy. They say Harper’s complaints of rising American protectionism – notably the ‘Buy American’ provisions in U.S. stimulus legislation – will ring hollow unless the cigarette law is changed.”

“Health Canada says the legislation will prohibit the tobacco industry from adding fruit and candy flavours such as chocolate, grape, banana and peach to make their product more appealing to youth. Menthol cigarettes are exempt from the ban. …Ottawa has also noted that cigarettes made with burley tobacco represent just 0.5 per cent of the total value of the Canadian market.”

“Melissa Leclerc, a spokeswoman for International Trade Minister Stockwell Day, said ‘Canada’s trade obligations were taken into account’ when Bill C-32 was written.”

The June 12 campaign blog ‘US congressmen say Canadian tobacco law violates NAFTA’ can be read at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=750.

Today’s article is at http://www2.canada.com/topics/news/story.html?id=2112305.