Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is a national nonprofit legal action and educational organization that fights against the many problems of smoking and for the rights of nonsmokers. ASH uses the tremendous power of the law in courts and legislative bodies, and before regulatory agencies, and has also become a major player in tobacco control internationally. For more than 40 years, ASH has been one of the most effective antismoking and nonsmokers' rights organizations in the world.
ASH was formed in 1967 by Executive Director John F. Banzhaf III, and a distinguished body of physicians, attorneys and other prominent citizens who saw the need for an effective organization to to fight smoking and to represent and protect nonsmokers' rights. Banzhaf, who served as Executive Director for more than 40 years, stepped down at the end of 2010 shortly after his 70th birthday. He was replaced as Executive Director by Laurent Huber, who has been ASH's International Director for over ten years. In 2011 Banzhaf serves as Special Counsel to ASH.
Although ASH's income is tiny compared with much larger national health organizations also active in the field – in part because it receives no money from the government or from the multi-state tobacco settlement – ASH has been a major force in the war against smoking. For this reason, and because of its location in the nation's media center, ASH has also emerged as a major spokesperson for nonsmokers on radio and television and in print media.
Also, unlike the many smaller state, local and specialty antismoking organizations with which it cooperates, ASH is active with regard to all aspects of the problems of smoking and nonsmokers' rights, and has a truly national focus. Also, more recently, ASH again engineered a major expansion of its focus to become a leading player in the international war on smoking by serving as secretariat of the Framework Convention Alliance [FCA]. The FCA is an umbrella organization made up of hundreds of individual organizations in more than 100 countries, all working to enforce and effectuate the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control [FCTC]; the world's first public health treaty.
One of ASH's major roles in the U.S. is to serve as a think tank and incubator for new strategies and tactics, and as a vehicle for propagating these new ideas to other antismoking organizations, legislators, regulators, and the general public. Thus, ASH was out in front in proclaiming nicotine as a addictive drug, in urging bans on smoking not only in indoor public areas and workplaces, but also outdoors and in private apartments and homes where necessary to protect adjacent apartment dwellers and children living in the home, in pressing for lower health insurance rates for nonsmokers, and in many other areas.
ASH was one of the first major organizations to publicize how as little as 30 minutes of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke could cause a fatal heart attack in nonsmokers, the dangers of polonium 210 in tobacco smoke, the weaknesses of so-called smokers' rights laws, and the dangers of thirdhand tobacco smoke. It was ASH that first argued that courts can and should issue orders prohibiting smoking around children involved in divorce proceedings, and around foster children – a new movement which has now also led to bans on smoking in cars when children are present.
More recently, ASH has led the fight to require e-cigarettes to be regulated, and to protect bystanders from the risks posed when these new products are used in areas where the smoking of conventional tobacco cigarettes is prohibited. ASH also helped develop and promote the concept of differential health insurance premiums; i.e., that nonsmokers should pay less than smokers for health insurance.
In short, ASH takes action on smoking and health, and it does so very effectively both domestically and abroad, providing more "bang for the buck" than most other antismoking and nonsmokers' rights organizations.
MAJOR VICTORIES FOR NONSMOKERS DURING 2010
Below are some of the major actions and accomplishments of ASH during 2010.
ASH continued a campaign it had begun during the prior year, when health care reform was being considered, of alerting Members of Congress – via emails, appeals through the media, etc. – to the huge and totally unnecessary costs smokers impose on health insurance programs, and the advantages of requiring smokers to pay more for their health insurance than nonsmokers. The final health care reform bill contains a provision permitting smokers to be charged up to 50% more for health insurance than nonsmokers.
ASH’s so-far successful campaign of urging attorneys general to take legal action against the unrestricted sale of e-cigs continued to bear fruit during 2010 when the Attorney General of Oregon forced one of the largest e-cig sellers to stop selling in his state.
When the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] issued important warnings about the dangers of e-cigarettes [e-cigs] in a court document which was largely overlooked by others, ASH publicized its conclusions – in numerous press releases, in radio and TV appearances, on the Internet, and in ASH publications – including that e-cigs pose “acute health risks,” and that the “danger posed by the unrestricted distribution of [these] unregulated products containing toxic chemicals cannot be questioned.”
ASH prepared and publicized a special report, triggered by a scientific article which received very little publicity, showing that, even if e-cigs are safer for their users than tobacco cigarettes, the widespread availability of e-cigs could nevertheless result in more deaths.
ASH prepared and widely publicized a report showing how each smoking employee can cost his employer (and, indirectly, his fellow employees) more than $12,000/yr in added expenses, a conclusion based upon a court proceeding in which ASH participated, and the only known one in which evidence of the costs of smoking employees was presented under oath and subject to cross examination. The report explained why much lower figures (in the range of $4,000/yr) which are often quoted in articles on this topic were incorrect: they failed to include the indirect as well as the direct medical care costs, and ignored added disability payments, added time lost from work, lost productivity due to smoking breaks, and other costly factors.
ASH helped to publicize a little-noticed scientific study which showed that nicotine released into the air by conventional tobacco cigarettes or by e-cigs combines with other common air pollutants to produce deadly, highly carcinogenic substances which can cling to surfaces for a considerable period of time after the smoking (or e-cig use) has ceased, thereby creating a health hazard, especially to young children.
ASH filed a formal legal complaint with the FDA over the sale and advertising of marijuana e-cigs which bragged that: “now I can get high while watching a game, at the office, or even on the airplane.”
ASH formally requested all domestic airlines to prohibit the use of e-cigs on their flights, and followed those requests with a project encouraging ASH members, other antismoking organizations, and others to write directly to each airline to protest the use of e-cigs. This included a single email address which allowed ASH members to send emails to all of the major airlines. Subsequently, airlines pledged not to permit the use of e-cigs on flights.
ASH, at the request of the military, prepared a detailed report of the health hazards and other problems of permitting the use of e-cigs on submarines, and in other enclosed places where the smoking of conventional tobacco products is prohibited.
ASH wrote a letter to the Joint Commission – the organization which sets standards for hospitals, and which now prohibits smoking conventional tobacco cigarettes – putting the organization on notice about the “acute health risks” (as the FDA summarized them) of e-cigs to the users, and to the potential health problems to nonsmoking patients, staff, and visitors to hospitals.
Since many Muslims who fast during the holiday Ramadan already refrain from food, drinks, and cigarettes from dawn to dusk, ASH joined Muslim spokesmen in urging observers to go all the way and use this opportunity to quit smoking entirely. It also urged non-Muslims to support them in trying to quit. ASH’s suggestion was picked up and repeated not only in the U.S., but also in several Muslim countries.
During the year, the New York State Assembly voted overwhelmingly, 125-0, to ban e-cigarettes. Earlier, ASH had sent an email to all of New York’s legislators seeking to correct misinformation they apparently received from the marketers and others about e-cigarettes, and testified on the bill.
ASH prepared, and posted on its website, a special report on smoking in casinos, and why it should be banned as it is in many other places of business.
During 2010, ASH took the lead in publicizing and raising public concerns – through press releases, discussions on radio and television, and through the Internet – about thirdhand tobacco smoke. The New York Times called it “the invisible yet toxic brew of gases and particles clinging to smoker’s hair and clothing,” Scientific American concluded that it's "the cocktail of toxins that linger in carpets, sofas, clothes and other materials hours or even days after a cigarette is put out," and the medical journal Pediatrics said that “third-hand smoke is tobacco smoke contamination that remains after the cigarette has been extinguished.”
ASH provided backup and support to a claim by the head of the Royal College of General Practitioners that smoking around children could constitute “child abuse” by providing legal analysis of both American and British law to show that the conclusion enjoyed strong support.
Because several states were beginning to consider it, ASH prepared a special report on why smoking should be banned in vehicles when children are present, including a link to a video graphically showing just how quickly toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke build up in a car when someone is smoking, even if the windows are open. An ever-growing number of jurisdictions are banning smoking in cars when children are present.
ASH'S REMARKABLE EFFECTIVENESS DURING 2010
ASH's fund raising expenses during the year 2010
amounted to only about 5% of its total expenditures, and ASH spent only
about 9% on management and other general expenses – including mandatory
costs such as the preparation of an annual report prepared by an
outside auditor, fees imposed by government, insurance and other
necessary fees, etc. In short, over 85% of ASH's expenditures went to
fight smoking and protect nonsmokers – a record few other organizations
Solely for the purpose of permitting readers to more easily find additional information about ASH – and about other charitable organizations – ASH provides below links to several organizations which provide such information on line for visitors. The listing below of any such information-providing organization does NOT suggest or imply that the organization endorses or supports ASH in any way, nor that ASH necessarily agrees with everything in the organization's report.
American Institute of Philanthropy (CharityWatch):
Charity Navigator: Why ASH Earned 4 Out of 4 Stars 4 Years in a Row
Give.org (Better Business Bureau):
http://charityreports.bbb.org http://charityreports.bbb.org/Public/Report.aspx?CharityID=2305 *
* ASH meets all of the numerous BBB standards except that it has not designated one Board member as a Treasurer. Instead , for 2010, it had two different chief financial officers, and two separate bookkeepers who produce an annual report audited by an independent accounting firm.
PLEASE REMEMBER: These listings do NOT necessarily suggest or imply that the organizations endorse or support ASH in any way.
For all of the many reasons listed above, and because ASH relies so heavily upon contributions from concerned nonsmokers, please also check out the following important links:
Why Join ASH online
Contribute to ASH
OTHER LINKS ABOUT ASH
ASH's Trustees and Sponsors: http://ash.org/ashboard.html
ASH's Directors (Trustees):
Mr. Doug Blanke, Director, Public Health Law Center
Dr. Chuck Crawford, President, Kimball Physics
Mr. Martin Adam Jacobs, New York Mercantile Exchange
Ms. Patricia Lambert, Director, International Legal Consortium, The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids
Dr. Alfred Munzer, Washington Adventist Hospital
Ms. M.R. Wells, Author & Screenwriter
Mr. Laurent Huber (ex officio), Executive Director, ASH
Mr. Laurent Huber, Executive Director, ASH
Ms. Elizabeth Furgurson, COO, ASH
Mr. Chris Bostic, International Programs
Mr. Josef Verovic, International Programs
Ms. Annie Singkouson, International Programs
Mrs. Nichelle Gray, Domestic Programs
Prof. John Banzhaf, Special Counsel to ASH
ASH's Goal and Mission: http://ash.org/mission.html
What Others Say About ASH: http://ash.org/whattheysay2.html
ASH's Form 990: http://ash.org/990_2010.pdf
The following information is taken from ASH's Audited Financial Report for 2010:
Total income = $3,986,663
Program Expense 1: Public Education = $2,911,064 (75% of Total Expenses)
Program Expense 2: Legal Action = $379,663 (10% of Total Expenses)
Total Program Services = $3,290,727 (85% of Total Expenses)
Fund Raising Expenses = $195,623 (5% of Total Expenses)
Administrative (Management and General) = $368,742 (10% of Total Expenses)
Total End of Year Assets = $7,302,702
Action on Smoking and Health
701 4th St. NW / Washington, DC 20001 / (202) 659-4310
A national nonprofit, scientific and educational organization founded in 1967.
All donations are fully tax deductible.