MCTC points out contradiction in signing TPPA to include tobacco

PETALING JAYA (Aug 12, 2013): The Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) today took its protest against the inclusion of tobacco in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) a notch higher with a letter to the Prime Minister.

Its president, Dr Molly Cheah, said the letter was intended to impress Datuk Seri Najib Razak on the contradiction in Malaysia signing the TPPA and the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

"The council is aware of the tobacco industries' interference in the government's decision-making process with regards to tobacco-related issues."

Cheah said it was inconceivable that Malaysia would be a signatory to both agreements as the respective obligations on the nation were poles apart.

She said that while WHO FCTC did not prevent signatories from signing other agreements on specific matters, they could not do so if the relevant obligations are incompatible.

"The TPPA's overall objective is to increase and facilitate free trade of goods and services including tobacco. This inclusion of tobacco goes against obligations under the WHO FCTC," she said. MCTC, one of the biggest stakeholders involved in the TPPA negotiation, has come all out against the inclusion of tobacco in the agreement with a concerted campaign to exclude tobacco from the free trade privileges under the agreement.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr. N.K.S Tharmaseelan said tobacco is the only product that kills half its users prematurely and causes numerous life threatening diseases and reduces productivity.

"There is simply no justification for tobacco to enjoy the privileges of free trade as provided for under TPPA," he added.

According to Tharmaseelan, the government has strained its resources in providing care to sufferers of diseases and ailments caused by tobacco use and this resulted in more than 11,000 deaths annually.

"The government should ensure their efforts are not jeopardised through the TPPA," he said.

He said most free trade agreements have a standard general provision with the exception of health" he said. The Health Ministry did not respond to calls on the matter.