Defending strong tobacco packaging and labelling regulations in Uruguay: transnational tobacco control network versus PMI

Eric Crosbie, Patricia Sosa, and I just published “Defending strong tobacco packaging and labelling regulations in Uruguay: transnational tobacco control network versus Philip Morris International” in Tobacco Control.  It shows how local and international tobacco control advocates collaborated to defend Uruguay’s strong graphic warning labels against PMI’s trade challenge and provides a model for similar collaborations globally.
 
In order to facilitate dissemination, we have also translated the paper into Spanish and also made it available for free on the UCSF open access server as well as directly from the journal.  Here are the links:
 
Tobacco Control: English version http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2017/03/22/tobaccocontrol-2017-053690
Tobacco Control: Spanish version http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/tobaccocontrol/suppl/2017/03/15/tobaccocontrol-2017-053690.DC1/Uruguay_UCSF_published-Spanish.pdf
UCSF (free access): English version http://escholarship.org/uc/item/07n9m5wn#
UCSF (free access): Spanish version http://escholarship.org/uc/item/8nh5n6ds#page-1
 
Here is the abstract in English:
 
Objective Describe the process of enacting and defending strong tobacco packaging and labelling regulations in Uruguay amid Philip Morris International's (PMI) legal threats and challenges.
Methods Triangulated government legislation, news sources and interviews with policy-makers and health advocates in Uruguay.
Results In 2008 and 2009, the Uruguayan government enacted at the time the world’s largest pictorial health warning labels (80% of front and back of package) and prohibited different packaging or presentations for cigarettes sold under a given brand. PMI threatened to sue Uruguay in international courts if these policies were implemented. The Vazquez administration maintained the regulations, but a week prior to President Vazquez’s successor, President Mujica, took office on 1 March 2010 PMI announced its intention to file an investment arbitration dispute against Uruguay in the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. Initially, the Mujica administration announced it would weaken the regulations to avoid litigation. In response, local public health groups in Uruguay enlisted former President Vazquez and international health groups and served as brokers to develop a collaboration with the Mujica administration to defend the regulations. This united front between the Uruguayan government and the transnational tobacco control network paid off when Uruguay defeated PMI’s investment dispute in July 2016.
Conclusion To replicate Uruguay’s success, other countries need to recognise that strong political support, an actively engaged local civil society and financial and technical support are important factors in overcoming tobacco industry's legal threats to defend strong public health regulations.
And in Spanish:
 
 RESUMEN
Objetivo Describir el proceso de promulgación y la defensa de las estrictas reglamentaciones sobre empaquetado y etiquetado del tabaco aplicadas por Uruguay en medio de las amenazas y los retos legales de Philip Morris Internacional (PMI).
Métodos Se trianguló Legislación gubernamental, fuentes de noticias y entrevistas con formuladores de políticas y activistas en salud de Uruguay.
Resultados En 2008 y 2009, el gobierno uruguayo promulgó lo que en ese momento fueron las etiquetas de advertencia sanitarias gráficas más grandes del mundo (80 % del frente y del dorso de la cajetilla) y prohibió diferentes empaquetados o presentaciones de una misma marca de cigarrillos. PMI amenazó
con demandar a Uruguay en las cortes internacionales si se aplicaban esas políticas. El gobierno de Vazquez mantuvo las reglamentaciones , pero una semana antes de que su sucesor, el presidente Mujica, asumiera el cargo el 1 de marzo de 2010, PMI anunció su intención de presentar una demanda de arbitraje contra Uruguay ante el Centro Internacional de Arreglo de Diferencias relativas a Inversiones (CIADI). Inicialmente, el gobierno de Mujica anunció que debilitaría las reglamentaciones para evitar litigios. En respuesta, los grupos locales de salud pública
en Uruguay contactaron al ex presidente Vazquez y a grupos internacionales de salud, y actuaron como intermediarios para crear una colaboración con el gobierno de Mujica para defender las regulaciones. Este frente unido entre el gobierno uruguayo y la red transnacional de control del tabaco dio sus frutos cuando Uruguay ganó la disputa de inversión de PMI en julio de 2016.
Conclusión Para reproducir el éxito de Uruguay, otros países tienen que reconocer que un sólido apoyo político, una sociedad civil local comprometida participando activamente, así como un respaldo financiero y técnico son factores importantes para superar las amenazas legales de la industria tabacalera y defender las fuertes regulaciones de salud pública.
 
The full citation for the paper is Crosbie E, Sosa P, Glantz S.  Defending strong tobacco packaging and labelling regulations in Uruguay: transnational tobacco control network versus Philip Morris International.  Epub ahead of print http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2017-053690