Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is a national nonprofit legal action and educational organization fighting for the rights of nonsmokers against the many problems of smoking. ASH uses the tremendous power of the law to represent nonsmokers in courts and legislative bodies, and before regulatory agencies. 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 John F. Banzhaf III, and a distinguished body of physicians, attorneys and other prominent citizens who saw the need for an effective organization to represent nonsmokers' rights. Although its income is tiny compared with the big national health organizations also active in the field – in part because it receives no money from the government or from the 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 the print media.
Also, unlike the many smaller state, local and specialty antismoking organizations with which it cooperates closely, ASH is active with regard to all aspects of the problems of smoking and nonsmokers' rights, and has a truly national focus. ASH supports the international war on smoking by working with and supporting the Framework Convention Alliance [FCA], 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 international antismoking and nonsmokers' rights 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 and 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 the first major organization 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, and the dangers of thirdhand tobacco smoke. It was ASH which 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 and "illegal" [FDA] products are used in areas where the smoking of conventional tobacco cigarettes is prohibited. ASH also helped develop and promote the concept that nonsmokers should pay less than smokers for health insurance.