P.M. BRIEFING : U.S. Tobacco Exports Clash With Health Policy, Report Says
U.S. trade policy of pushing tobacco exports worldwide is at odds with the nation’s health policy, which for more than 25 years has discouraged Americans from smoking, a congressional report said today.
Assistant Health Secretary James Mason, an outspoken critic of tobacco exports, had agreed to appear at a hearing at which the report was released, but backed out at the direction of Administration officials, said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles), head of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.
“It appears there are officials in the Administration who place greater emphasis on the export of tobacco--a product estimated to kill 2.5 million people annually--than on the promotion of international health,” Waxman said.
Jim Brown, a spokesman for the Public Health Service, said Mason himself decided not to attend today’s hearing after he learned it would focus on trade issues.
The report by the General Accounting Office found that “U.S. policy and programs for assisting the export of tobacco and tobacco products work at cross purposes to U.S. health policy.”
Sales of American tobacco overseas produced a $4.3-billion trade surplus in 1989, up from $2 billion in 1986. Meanwhile, tobacco sales within the United States declined.