Alert: Plenary at Alcohol Policy XIII (U.S.) adopts resolution encouraging protection of public health interests in negotiating GATS agreements relating to alcohol and tobacco.

The resolution was proposed after participants learned of recent activity in the GATS negotiations that could adversely impact alcohol and tobacco policies in the United States. Specifically, a recent request from the E.U. to include alcohol and tobacco distribution within the purview of GATS could threaten State laws and local regulations which limit sales and distribution of those products. Prevention experts and others in the U.S. consider those rules to be essential in reducing and preventing alcohol related harms, and are concerned that such rules might be dismantled in the name of freer harm. This is the full text of the conference's resolution:


Sense of the Conference Resolution regarding the 
Global Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) Negotiations

Alcohol Policy XIII
Preventing Alcohol Problems among Youth: Policy Approaches

March 13 – 16, 2003, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

(At the conclusion of this conference, the participants reviewed as a group the following statement. 
This statement represents general agreement; however, no one was asked to sign it, nor did everyone
 necessarily agree with all of it.)


Whereas, the negotiations process associated with the Global Agreement on Trade in Services seeks to reduce and eliminate so-called “barriers to trade,”

Whereas, the European Union has requested that distribution and other services related to alcohol and tobacco products be included in the current round of negotiations,

Whereas such inclusion could lead to the reduction or elimination of certain U.S. laws and regulations implemented by States and communities to control harm related to alcohol and tobacco consumption,

Whereas, scientific research points to the critical importance of such measures in preventing and controlling epidemics of public health problems related to alcohol and tobacco use,

Whereas, the public health community in the United States and other countries, including health and safety professionals, educators, researchers, and local, state and federal officials and community members, recognize that these laws and regulations are important tools in protecting the safety and health of our citizens,

 Then let it be resolved, that we urge the U.S. Trade Representative to deny the E.U. request to include alcohol- and tobacco-related services in the current round of negotiations and exclude these services in its requests to other countries,

And let it further be resolved, that we encourage the U.S. Trade Representative to take measures to protect State and community policies that address alcohol and tobacco consumption as public health issues in future rounds of negotiations,

And let it further be resolved, that we ask the U.S. Trade Representative to promote transparency and democratic accountability throughout the trade negotiations process, with the fuller inclusion of the public health community.

Adopted by acclamation at closing conference session, March 16, 2003. 

For more information, CPATH documents provide a good sense of the issue and what's at stake:


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