The Anti-Tobacco Trade Litigation Fund
from Bloomberg Philanthropies and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
As more countries adopt strong laws to reduce tobacco use, the tobacco industry is fighting back by challenging these measures under international trade and investment agreements. These lawsuits – and sometimes just the threat of such lawsuits – are aimed at discouraging countries from enacting or implementing life-saving tobacco control laws.
Countries including Australia and Uruguay are currently embroiled in international trade litigation brought by the tobacco industry to keep them from implementing their evidence-based tobacco control policies, and dozens more countries have been threatened with such action by tobacco companies or their representatives.
In response to this growing threat from the tobacco industry, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on March 18, 2015, announced the creation of the Anti-Tobacco Trade Litigation Fund. The fund will support low- and middle-income countries that have been sued by tobacco companies in arbitration under international trade agreements. Managed by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the fund will provide financial and technical assistance to governments committed to defending their laws to reduce tobacco use.
“We are at a critical moment in the global effort to reduce tobacco use, because the significant gains we have seen are at risk of being undermined by the tobacco industry’s use of trade agreements and litigation.”
-- Michael R. Bloomberg
“Country leaders who are trying to protect their citizens from the harms of tobacco should not be deterred by threats of costly legal challenges from huge tobacco companies…That’s why we are supporting the Anti-Tobacco Trade Litigation Fund with Bloomberg Philanthropies.”
-- Bill Gates
Eligibility for Financial Support
Governments that have had their tobacco control laws challenged in international trade tribunals are eligible to apply to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for financial assistance. Funds may only be used in the defense of a case and for expenses directly related to the conduct of the litigation such as legal fees and costs, expert fees and other litigation related costs. The following criteria will guide evaluation of requests for assistance.
- The importance of the issue’s resolution to both the specific low- or middle-income country, and to other countries that are considering similar action;
- The legal defensibility of the tobacco control measure being challenged;
- The probability of success on the merits to an international trade challenge;
- The size of the population that will benefit from the law; and
- The commitment of the government to tobacco control and to participating fully in the defense of the measure being challenged.
Other Types of Assistance
While funding will be extended only to countries currently undergoing litigation in a trade forum and meeting these criteria, technical assistance is also available to governments that have been threatened by tobacco companies or their representatives, or that are moving ahead with strong legislation that might prompt trade-based litigation. This assistance includes consultation with lawyers and other experts experienced in supporting countries undergoing trade-based litigation, as well as access to guides and manuals that summarize key trade issues.
Government representatives wishing to discuss financial or technical support should contact Robert Eckford LLB at firstname.lastname@example.org