I can sort of get why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would attack the whole concept that ordinary people should be able to sue corporations when said corporations inflict injury and death on the citizenry. After all, lawsuits to enforce corporate accountability are none too popular in boardrooms across America. And so the endless claims of “frivolous lawsuits” by the Chamber’s various front groups like the Institute for Legal Reform make sense in the “you’ve gotta look out for your own people” category.
But now the Chamber has descended to a new circle of Hell in whose interests it decides to promote. The international tobacco industry, responsible for more preventable deaths and more hideous disease than all the other corporate enterprises in the world combined (yes, including weapons makers, poisoners, polluters and all such), turns out to be a favorite darling of the Chamber’s lobbying efforts. Not just here in the USofA, but everywhere.
The Chamber of Commerce has mounted a global campaign to protect the interests of tobacco from all manner of efforts by the world’s governments to discourage their peoples from smoking.
And this is an outfit on whose board sits representatives of various big hospitals and health insurers!
I turn the floor over to the New York Times:
From Ukraine to Uruguay, Moldova to the Philippines, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its foreign affiliates have become the hammer for the tobacco industry, engaging in a worldwide effort to fight antismoking laws of all kinds, according to interviews with government ministers, lobbyists, lawmakers and public health groups in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States.
And what is one of the big tactics the Chamber uses around the world in its campaign to promote death by smoke inhalation? Why, lawsuits, naturally. Again from the New York Times:
The tobacco industry has increasingly turned to international courts to challenge antismoking laws that countries have enacted after the passage of the W.H.O. treaty. Early this year, Michael R. Bloomberg and Bill Gates set up an international fund to fight such suits. Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an advocacy group that administers the fund, called the chamber “the tobacco industry’s most formidable front group,” adding, “it pops up everywhere.”
What’s the Chamber of Commerce doing in the current back room negotiations about the Trans Pacific Partnership treaty? You guessed it: Preserving the “rights” of tobacco companies to sue to block regulations intended to wean the world’s smoking habits.