Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics  |  April 12, 2013

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This paper argues that there are instances in which tobacco control litigation is strengthening the justiciability of the right to health and health-related rights. This is happening in different parts of the world, but in particular in Latin America. In part this is because, to a certain extent, tobacco control litigation based on fundamental rights overcomes the traditional arguments against economic, social and cultural rights adjudication: the anti-democratic argument, the lack of technical competency argument, the problem of the misallocation of scarce public resources and the problem of the implementation of judicial decisions. As we analyzed in this paper, tobacco control cases based on fundamental rights are allowing courts to elaborate on broader standards of judicial adjudication of social rights, e.g., expand notions of standing, progressive realization, and state obligations enshrined in the right to health. Key to this judicial trend is the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which provides a legal standard — supported by scientific evidence — defining concrete measures states should take to address the tobacco epidemic, and thus giving content to the right to health as it relates to tobacco control.

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