Hearings to start in Uruguay anti-smoking

The Australian, Canberra

Hearings to start in Uruguay anti-smoking

5 February 2013

AAP/Uruguay faces its first hearings in the French capital this week in a lawsuit filed by US tobacco giant Philip Morris International against its anti-smoking laws, an official said on Monday.

In early 2010, Philip Morris filed a complaint with the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), seeking damages allegedly caused by the Latin American country’s anti-tobacco measures, claiming they violated a bilateral investment treaty and harmed the company.

"Hearings are tomorrow and the day after," said government official Jose Mujica, noting the parties were meeting with the court in Paris Monday and that an initial hearing would focus on whether Philip Morris met the necessary legal requirements in filing its complaint.

In March 2006, Uruguay became the first Latin American country and the fifth nation worldwide to implement a ban on smoking in enclosed public places.

It also enacted some of the world’s toughest tobacco laws, requiring large health warnings on packages and banning advertising and the use of multiple products for one brand.

Diego Canepa, head of the Uruguay delegation, said the case was being closely monitored internationally and could have negative repercussions for Uruguay.

"Many people are watching this case around the world," he told local radio from Paris.

A first ruling was not expected until May, he added.

In October 2011, Philip Morris International closed its plant in Uruguay and moved its local production to neighbouring Argentina.


Comment on this article


  • Hearings to start in Uruguay anti-smoking21-February-2013 | margaret beresford

    Rather odd, given the number of successful US lawsuits against tobacco companies found to have caused cancer and other pulmonary diseases. Governments were also citing health care costs including the affects of second hand smoke. Maybe tobacco companies can then revisit these lost cases . One thing all of these bilateral agreements have in common are investor rights that only apply to companies of the signing country. Seems too one sided for proper contract law to be in good standing. Why are governments signing for financial responsibility of their taxpayers and finalizing them in secret? Does the fact that most of these trade deals are done in secret, to whit only the taxpayers as potential losers are left in the dark and on the hook after.

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