The Ralph Boyce Scandal
December 15, 2006
Calls for probe into US-Thai tobacco meet
congressmen have asked for an inquiry into US
ambassador Ralph Boyce for possible violation of an amendment prohibiting US officials from promoting the sale of tobacco
products, a Thai health activist said yesterday. Hatai Chitanondh, president of the Health Promotion Institute under the National
Health Foundation, said California and Texas representatives
Henry Waxman and Lloyd Doggett submitted their request to US
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Dec 5.
The congressmen questioned Mr Boyce's coordinating
of a meeting of US industry representatives, including that of Philip Morris, with Health Minister Phinij Jarusombat in August,
according to copies of a letter Dr Hatai circulated to the media.
The congressmen quoted the Thai media as
saying the meeting was to protest advertising restrictions on cigarettes. However, the US congressmen expressed concern that it may have ''contravened'' the Doggett Amendment
_ which prohibits key government agencies from promoting the sale of tobacco products overseas, or working to reduce other
countries' non-discriminatory tobacco control regulations.
The congressmen asked Ms Rice for an account
of the August meeting and her ''understanding'' of whether it complied with the Doggett Amendment.
US embassy officials in Bangkok could not be reached for comment yesterday.
After the meeting in August, Mr Phinij
said tobacco companies demanded the ministry's advertising controls be equally imposed on all forms of tobacco products. They
complained that cigars and pipe tobacco were not subject to the same ad controls as cigarettes.
Ambassador Boyce at the time said the ''negotiation''
marked the first of its kind in 15 years and expressed hope that there would be more opportunities for the two sides to work
together in the future.
Subsequently, Dr Hatai said the move reflected
the ambassador's strong support for the liquor and tobacco industries, despite US
government policy prohibiting US embassies worldwide from supporting liquor and tobacco businesses.
Bangkok Post, December 16, 2006
THAI-US POLITICS / TOP-LEVEL TOBACCO MEETING
Boyce not queried
by DC yet
The US secretary of state has not yet requested the
US ambassador to report on his recent coordination of a meeting between
US tobacco and alcohol giants and the former Thai health minister, a US official said yesterday.
The US official, who asked not to be named, said in
an interview with the Bangkok Post that the US embassy in Thailand had not received any inquiry from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to report on
US ambassador Ralph Boyce's role in the
The US official insisted that the envoy was ''mindful''
of the Doggett Amendment and that the meeting was fully compliant with US
Different opinions on the meeting were possible but these would not affect US policy, and meetings with Thai officials would still take place on a case-by-case
basis, the official said.
Ambassador Boyce coordinated the meeting between representatives of the tobacco and alcohol industries
with health minister Phinij Jarusombat that was seen as an attempt by the companies to protest advertising restrictions on
California and Texas
congressmen Henry Waxman and Lloyd Doggett on Dec 5 sent a letter to Ms Rice asking for an account of the meeting and her
''understanding'' of whether it complied with the Doggett Amendment.
They expressed concern that it may have contravened the law which prohibits government agencies from promoting
the sale of tobacco products overseas or working to reduce other countries' non-discriminatory tobacco control regulations
Nithat Sirichotiratana, of Mahidol University's faculty of public health, urged public health officials to closely monitor
the Thai-US free trade agreement and call for the withdrawal of tobacco and alcohol from any future trade negotiations.