Long-Standing Career with the Tobacco Industry
- Senior Vice President Corporate Affairs PMI (2006-2013)
- Vice President of Regulatory and Fiscal Affairs PMI (2005- 2006)
- President and Associate General Counsel for PMI’s Latin America and Canada region (2003-2005)
- Vice President and Associate General Counsel PMI (2001-2003)
- Associate General Counsel, Worldwide Regulatory Affairs at Altria Group (1999-2003)
Justified Uruguayan Lawsuit
In February 2010, PMI (represented by law firm LALIVE) challenged Uruguay using the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, seeking damages under the Switzerland-Uruguay Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) for tobacco control regulations introduced by Uruguay.
Several parties accused the tobacco company of preventing the Government of Uruguay from protecting the health of its citizens. Defending the company’s claim against Uruguay, Hurwitz told the media that “Our lawsuit is not a question of public health versus business. We are challenging regulations which are not fairly applied to all companies, which add further fuel to Uruguay’s huge black market in cigarettes and have not even been shown to reduce smoking prevalence.” Hurwitz’s arguments, in particular the argument that tobacco legislation will lead to increased illicit trade and will not have the intended public health outcome, are not new. The industry has used these arguments to try undermine tobacco legislation in other parts of the world, including the Uganda Tobacco Control Bill 2014, and plain packaging legislation in Australia and the United Kingdom.
Corporate Social Responsibility: Tobacco Farming
On 9 February 2007, Hurwitz wrote to the World Health Organization (WHO) ahead of the WHO public hearing held in Brasilia on 26 February 2007 on agricultural diversification and alternative crops to tobacco.
In his letter, Hurwitz wrote that PMI supported the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) process, and its goal to offer tobacco farmers better livelihoods by offering viable crop alternatives, but added that tobacco consumption was likely to continue for the foreseeable future and that therefore PMI will continue to purchase tobacco leaf from tobacco farmers. Hurwitz then continued to promote PMI’s Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) program, which the company set up in collaboration with tobacco leaf suppliers and farmers, to provide clear guidelines for good agricultural practice in areas child labour, safety, and environmental impact. Hurwitz closed the letter by suggesting that PMI welcomed “the opportunity to provide detailed information on our GAP program to the Tobacco Free Initiative and members of the ad-hoc study group”.
Tobacco companies have tied tobacco farming into their corporate social responsibility agenda, attempting to present themselves as good corporate citizens while obscuring the many challenges created by tobacco agriculture, including health risk to the farmers such as acute nicotine poisoning, known as green tobacco sickness. In 2009, Hurwitz acknowledged that “The more we looked into green tobacco sickness, the more we realised that this was an issue we missed…We didn’t realise how serious it is.”
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- SMPM International
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- Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
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- Tobacco-facts.net, Tackling Green Tobacco Sickness, 25 March 2009, accessed October 2018