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Anti-Tobacco Trade Litigation Fund

Tobacco companies are working hard to prevent countries from passing laws that reduce use and save lives — especially low- and middle-income countries that can’t afford to dedicate significant resources to legal battles.

Since 2010, Uruguay has been fighting — with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and global advocates — a legal challenge by Philip Morris International to the requirement that graphic health warnings must be placed on its tobacco packaging. Australia has also been confronted by both a World Trade Organization (WTO) challenge and a legal challenge from Philip Morris International to its law requiring cigarettes to be in “plain packaging” characterized by health warnings and drab coloring. Many other countries have faced similar threats, resulting in delays to the passage and implementation of the laws recommended by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Established in 2015 with backing from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Anti-Tobacco Trade Litigation Fund fights the tobacco industry’s use of international trade agreements and litigation to prevent countries from passing strong tobacco-control laws. The Washington, DC-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids administers the fund, coordinating funding, technical assistance, media attention, and support from the global public health community.

In addition to supporting countries facing suits before international trade tribunals, the Anti-Tobacco Trade Litigation Fund incorporates:

  • Technical assistance in legislative drafting and documentation to avoid legal challenges and potential trade disputes from the passage of tobacco-control laws
  • Support of global best practices in tobacco control and coordinated efforts to document industry wrongdoing
  • Litigation support for low- and middle-income countries to help defend laws in the form of financial support and access to good legal assistance
  • Communications support to inform the public about the industry’s challenges to tobacco-control policy and its abuse of the trade system
  • Assistance in accessing tobacco-control experts and mobilizing support among the global public health community to help countries defend themselves against litigation
  • Creation of a network of senior lawyers experienced in trade litigation to support countries

Top photo: The Anti-Tobacco Trade Litigation Fund fights the tobacco industry’s use of international trade agreements and litigation to prevent countries from passing strong tobacco-control laws. Photo credit: Shutterstock