Free Trade and Tobacco: Thank You for Not Smoking (Foreign) Cigarettes

5 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2013

Date Written: 2012


This paper examines some of the perceived tensions between free trade and regulation of tobacco for health purposes and concludes that most of the concerns about trade and investment agreements undermining domestic regulation are unfounded and that special rules for tobacco are unnecessary. Free trade itself does not raise national sovereignty concerns, nor does it interfere with domestic policymaking to any significant degree. Although there may be valid concerns about some of the more recent additions to trade and investment agreements (i.e., rules that go beyond fighting protectionism), the core of these rules constrains domestic regulation only to the extent that such regulation discriminates against imports and does not preclude legitimate domestic policymaking.

Keywords: U.S. trade policy, United States tobacco policy, tobacco regulation, protectionism, imports, public health, tariffs, trade agreements, American health policy, government regulation

JEL Classification: L66, F10, F13, I18

Suggested Citation

Lester, Simon, Free Trade and Tobacco: Thank You for Not Smoking (Foreign) Cigarettes (2012). Free Trade Bulletin No. 49, August 15, 2012. Available at SSRN:

Simon Lester (Contact Author)

Cato Institute ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

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