16 December 2008

Big Tobacco strikes back

The tobacco company Nobleza Piccardo (part of British American Tobacco) is suing Santa Fe Province before the Supreme Court because of the provincial anti-tobacco law, they claim, has made them lose a lot of money. Specifically, they feel the articles that ban cigarette advertising go beyond the provincial state's attributions to care for public health and infringe on free expression.

The fight against smoking has a been a frequent subject in this blog. I think we're all pretty surprised at our own reception of anti-tobacco regulations in this country; besides a minority of doomsday sayers, soon reduced to nothingness, most Argentinians have accepted that it's just rude to smoke indoors in a public place, and got on with our lives. I guess that's as far as product loyalty goes — the tobacco companies must have been very disappointed to witness none of the addicts they created mobilized against the rules that forbid them from pushing their poison on teenagers and children.

The suit (a claim of unconstitutionality) was brought to the Supreme Court two months ago but we know about it now because the state attorney Jorge Barraguirre appears on the press denying the charges. Nobleza Piccardo tried to get in an amparo (sort of an injunction, to stop the law from being applied while the matter is decided) but the Court rejected it, so we must wait and see what comes out of it.

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