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History

UN Photo/Martine Perret

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has a long and successful history of advocacy, education and legal initiatives in the fight against tobacco. ASH uses the powers of science and law to protect health above the interests of the tobacco industry. ASH has fought for health in courts, before legislative bodies and regulatory agencies, as well as international agencies such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

ASH’s work and the work of its allies has spanned more than 40 years. Since the release of the original Surgeon General Report on smoking in January 1964, the global initiative for the prevention of tobacco-related damages has made enormous progress—and ASH has played a major role in achieving this progress.

ASH was formed in 1967 by John F. Banzhaf III, and a distinguished body of physicians, attorneys and other prominent citizens who saw the need for an organization to represent nonsmokers’ rights. Over the years, ASH has taken the lead on a variety of initiatives to counter the deaths and economic burden imposed by the tobacco industry.

ASH’s actions have led to significant progress, including:

  • Adoption and implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first international treaty that deals exclusively with tobacco issues.
  • A 2001 executive order by President Bill Clinton prohibiting the government from promoting the sale or export of tobacco products;
  • The implementation of smoke-free legislation in a number of jurisdictions in the United States and other countries;
  • A decision by Congress to ban smoking on airline flights in 1990;
  • A ban on cigarette commercials over the airwaves in 1972;

More progress is still needed. Today, ASH fights the tobacco epidemic on a global scale. ASH’s goal is to see U.S. tobacco control through a global lens, and to see the global tobacco epidemic through a U.S. lens. Working individually and through a large global network (that ASH helped create) ASH monitors industry behavior, pushes for stronger regulations at home and abroad, and ensures that tobacco is on the global agenda for health, trade, development and human rights.

Read a letter from the Chair of the Board of Trustees >

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