Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Treaty Up in Smoke?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Treaty Up in Smoke?

Article excerpt

IT sounds like a good idea: Get the nations of the world together to agree on a treaty to curb tobacco use. But it's not so easy to accomplish, despite good intentions all around.

Delegates at a World Health Organization (WHO) conference in Geneva agreed last weekend on a text for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control - but over the objections of the United States, Germany, and China.

The US and Germany opposed language calling for an outright ban on tobacco advertising. Washington says that would violate constitutional free-speech guarantees; Berlin objects it could foreshadow attempts to outlaw advertising for alcohol or certain foods. The document would require a ban only in those countries where it's constitutionally acceptable. But the US protested that the draft treaty's definition of advertising and promotion remains too broad.

The US had other complaints related to its unique governmental structure. It objected to a requirement that health warnings cover a minimum 30 percent of a cigarette pack, saying that would trample on Congress's prerogatives under the separation-of-powers principle. It likewise complained that a ban on free distribution of tobacco products to youth impinges on states' role in the US federal system. …

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