Domestic Tobacco Regulation and International Law

For the most part, conflict between domestic tobacco regulation/international tobacco control instruments and international trade obligations is more imaginary than real. In practice, domestic regulation can be carried out consistently with trade obligations. Nevertheless, there is at least a small chance of actual conflict between international tobacco rules and trade obligations. Where such conflict arises, this paper argues that proper treaty interpretation requires that trade obligations, as the “harder” version of law, would take precedence over conflicting tobacco rules. For public health advocates who have concerns about this, the solution is not to exclude tobacco from trade agreements, but to refine existing trade obligations.

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