Tobacco Asia

Volume 19, Number 5

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Page 46 of 71

tobaccoasia 47 Leaf Versus Products American tobacco farmers - or at least those who have taken a public position on the treaty - have opposed the carveout clause. A widely quoted opinion piece written by a leading burley grower said it could be very damaging to tobacco growers. "The Trans Pacific Partnership will dam- age the ability of the purchasers of our burley to protect their market share in affected countries," wrote Roger Quarles of Georgetown, Ky., in the Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader in September. "The tobacco product manufacturers have in- vested heavily in creating trademark brands that use our burley. They deserve every legal right to protect the identity of those brands. Our tobacco growers' sales depend on the good fortune of our purchasers." Quarles, whose son was elected commissioner of agriculture for the state of Kentucky in No- vember, noted that public-health policies in some countries are targeted at American blend cigarettes even though there is little sound science to sup- port these policies. "Poorly disguised attempts in the name of social health reforms will create a precedent to eliminate trade in several other of our agricultural commodities, all in the name of improving pub- lic health," wrote Quarles. "Any consumer who has decided to enjoy tobacco products is doing so knowing all the risks. We should not accept having the playing field tilted against us." Washington Infuriated Representatives of general agriculture (i.e., not just tobacco) have found this attitude infuriating: They can't understand why any grower would oppose TPP. One of them is the US Secretary of Agri- culture, Tom Vilsack, who said in frustration in October that an educational process was needed. "The challenge is to make sure they (tobacco farmers) fully understand that tariffs are being eliminated on tobacco, which will expand oppor- tunity for our producers to sell to Japan, to the Malaysian market, to the Vietnamese market. Mar- ket access is going to be greater." As to the carveout, he called it simply an ac- knowledgement of what already exists and pointed out that public health laws in other countries have to be respected. "That is not much different than what we have in the United States," said Vilsack. "What is lost in this conversation is that tariffs are being elimi- nated on tobacco products, so for producers in the US there is greater market access."

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