International Trade Law - Regulating Tobacco, Alcohol and Unhealthy Foods: The Legal Issues
in Tania Voon, Andrew Mitchell and Jonathan Liberman (eds), Regulating Tobacco, Alcohol and Unhealthy Foods: The Legal Issues (Routledge, UK, 2014) 86–109
24 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2015 Last revised: 19 Apr 2018
Date Written: 2014
Trade liberalisation has the potential to increase certain unhealthy habits such as smoking and over-consumption of alcohol and unhealthy foods, leading to a corresponding increase in non-communicable diseases (‘NCDs’). A range of measures designed to reduce consumption of these products may implicate international trade rules. For example, NCD risk factors may be addressed through: product bans; packaging and labelling requirements; import tariffs; sales taxes; subsidies; licences; restrictions on advertising, promotion or sponsorship; regulation of product content through disclosure or restriction of ingredients; restrictions on ages of sale or purchase; exclusion areas (eg no smoking or no alcohol areas); and education. To a greater or lesser degree, each of these measures could potentially infringe international trade rules and therefore needs to be crafted with those rules in mind. A key aim of this chapter is therefore to provide insights for public health officials and policy-makers in countries around the world on how regulation of NCD risk factors can be optimised to accord with the requirements of international trade law without compromising public health objectives. Despite some problematic examples of recent clashes between international trade law and NCD risk factor regulation (particularly in connection with tobacco), we firmly believe as international trade law scholars that international trade law need not impede sound health policy.
Keywords: non-communicable diseases, World Trade Organzation
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