14 Mar 2005

SPC calls for tobacco and alcohol to be excluded from free trade agreements

9:10 pm on 14 March 2005

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community has called for tobacco and alcohol to be excluded from free trade agreements in the region.

The SPC will present a paper it commissioned to the Pacific Ministers of Health meeting in Samoa this week on its concerns.

SPC's Health Promotion Adviser, Dr Harley Stanton, says the Secretariat believes it is an important issue that needs to be addressed.

"What free-trade agreements are generally aimed at is enabling countries to have access at cheaper prices to a greater range of goods and yet the inherent nature of some of the products that are freely traded are really counter to public health, so we feel it is appropriate and timely to have a discussion on this issue."

Dr Stanton says countries should be free to maintain appropriately high tariffs or taxes on such products as a public health measure.