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Smokers beware: Global legislation on the horizon

By Cheryl K. Chumley
web posted May 31, 2004

My, how the times they have a-changed.

It was just a few short years ago that the thought of holding tobacco companies accountable for the health of smokers seemed as ludicrous as, well, the idea of suing gun manufacturers for weapons that worked or fast food joints for food that tasted good.

But enter 2004. The tobacco industry, sliding into year six of a 25-year, $206 billion pay-off to 46 states that blamed manufacturers for smokers' illnesses, now faces yet another legal challenge with potential to grab $289 billion more in profits. This latest suit comes from our government – the same government, curiously, that still allows for legalized tobacco sales even while it paints industry executives as conspirators made rich by "ill gotten gains" and plots the means for grabbing these dollars via a 1970 law created to prosecute mobsters, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Think or say what you will about tobacco, tobacco profiteers or tobacco users. But it just can't seriously be argued that those producing for this still-legal industry are deserving of prosecution under RICO and guilty of violating federal racketeering laws as the Justice Dept. alleges and as a U.S. district court judge wants to formally consider, setting a Sept. 13 trial date for arguments.

No matter the trial outcome, though, anti-smoking radicals and activists need not worry. If this lawsuit fails to produce the seemingly desired result of industry-wide bankruptcy, there's another door just ahead, behind which sits modern government's answer to about every challenge, problem, difficulty or dilemma facing the 21 century: a U.N. treaty.

Called the U.N.'s World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the United States signed this document on May 10, becoming the 109 nation to do so. Yet to pass through our Senate for approval, this treaty will nonetheless take effect once 28 more nations, for a total of 40, have ratified it. Suffice it to say that tobacco companies – as well as Americans concerned with the preservation of sovereignty and free market principle – will soon have a new battle to fight, this time with a global entity that exists purely to encroach, regulate and enforce.

The treaty, should the Senate ratify, will compel the United States to "take all appropriate measures to curb tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke."

This means America will commit herself to enacting whatever legislation is necessary "at the appropriate governmental level to protect all persons from exposure to tobacco smoke;" working with the international community to transfer "techology, knowledge and financial assistance" related to smoking cessation efforts; and deciding and abiding "issues relating to liability."

In other words, America will cede its authority to legislate and adjudicate based on sovereign law and will help pay the costs of other nations to implement anti-tobacco policy. Our nation will also suffer a blow to its free market ideals, as Article Six requires participating treaty nations to regularly report tobacco tax rates to the global body for review.

"The parties recognize that price and tax meaures are an effective and important means of reducing tobacco consumption," Article Six reads. "The parties shall provide rates of taxation for tobacco products and trends in tobacco consumption in their periodic reports to the conference of the parties."

It's Article 20, though, that really raises the brow.

"The parties shall establish, as appropriate, programs for national, regional and global surveillance of the magnitude, determinants and consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke," this portion of the treaty states. "Toward this end, the parties should integrate tobacco surveillance programs into national, regional and global health surveillance programs so that data are comparable and can be analyzed at the regional and international levels, as appropriate."

Helping the United Nations implement this surveillance policy – meaning, the reporting of all things related to tobacco to the global group – are American taxpayer dollars, of course.

Why is America involving herself with this treaty? Smoking is well on its way to becoming banned already in this nation; why do we need to pay the United Nations to help enact what we're currently achieving?

It's bad enough we as a nation with a form of governmence supposedly of, by and for the people have to suffer the hypocricies of political leaders and bureaucratic officials who condemn the evils of the very same product that lines their pockets with millions in revenues annually. Now we also have to contend with the anti-American global body trying to create and grab its own share of the money pie, too.

We ought, as a nation, give them what they say they want and quit smoking, each and every one of us. Let's just see how these same politicians and global money grabbers fare when tobacco tax dollars really do disappear...and watch how quickly their concerns for our collective health and well-being turn to anxieties instead over their missing revenues.

Cheryl K. Chumley is a freelancer and regular contributing columnist for www.newswithviews.com and www.thedailycannon.com. She may be reached at ckchumley@aol.com.

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