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Philip Morris sues Uruguay over anti tobacco legislation

Big corporation demands the small country for anti tabacco legislation.
Big corporation demands the small country for anti tabacco legislation.
Big corporation demands the small country for anti tabacco legislation.

David and Goliath - One of the world’s biggest tobacco companies is launching a claim against Uruguay for considering their legislation commercially damaging to the company.

One of the smallest Latin America’s countries faces a multi million corporation, based in Switzerland, in Parisian courts this week. The corporation has filed a claim at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World Bank branch.

According to the claim, the countries´ policies on tobacco control are damaging the company’s performance in the small the South American nation.

Former Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez, an oncologist, banned smoking in public buildings four years ago. Tobacco advertising is also banned and cigarettes' packets must carry large health warnings.

The rules, which also prevent the sale of products branded as "light," put the small South American country at the vanguard of global anti-smoking laws.

Also at the vanguard of its business is Philip Morris. It is the first time that a tobacco company demands a State on an international forum.

At a press conference in the beginning of May, Uruguayan Government reaffirmed the right to defend the public health of its citizens. This is the line the defense will follow according to the American lawyer Paul Reichler, who will assume the defense of the country in the litigation.

According to him, the defense questions the agreement of protection of investments that the tobacco company says the country has violated based on an article that authorizes the government not to allow economic activities “that damage the public health”.

“The treaty establishes that by sovereignty Uruguay has the right to prohibit unhealthy activities (...). With its anti tobacco laws the country does not attack the investments of Philip Morris, it only imposes limits to an activity that is to promote and to commercialize harmful products ", emphasized Reichler.

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Tags:  Philip Morris  Uruguay  ICSID  





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