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(RELEASE): BROWN, BLUMENTHAL AND DEMOCRATIC SENATE COLLEAGUES ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT ON U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE’S GLOBAL LOBBYING FOR BIG TOBACCO

For Immediate Release:

July 2, 2015

Contact: Meghan Dubyak / Rachel Petri

202-224-1175

BROWN, BLUMENTHAL AND DEMOCRATIC SENATE COLLEAGUES ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT ON U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE’S GLOBAL LOBBYING FOR BIG TOBACCO

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Al Franken (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) issued the following statement on recent reports regarding the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s global lobbying to advance interests of Big Tobacco:

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s decision to use its international clout to fight regulations of tobacco products around the world is craven and unconscionable. Commerce member companies should be concerned that their good name is sullied in efforts to strike down public health protections worldwide. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is, in effect, renting its letterhead and name to big tobacco, contrary to responsible corporate interests and Americans’ interests in improving global public health. We urge the chamber to rethink this strategy and instead find partners to help improve global public health, not strengthen efforts that will worsen the health of millions globally and cause innumerable deaths from tobacco usage.”

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Obama Can Help End Tobacco Epidemic, Says ASH

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Megan Arendt

Office: 202-659-4310

Email: arendtm@ash.org

Obama Can Help End Tobacco Epidemic, Says ASH

Action on Smoking & Health (ASH) Calls on President Obama to Choose Health Over Profits

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 24, 2015 – President Obama and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Froman have the opportunity to curb the tobacco epidemic forever. The Senate voted to pass the Trade Promotion Authority Bill (TPA or Fast-Track) which creates an expedited process to get trade bills through Congress, paving the way for Obama’s signature.

Now that Fast-Track has passed, the President and Ambassador Froman will turn their attention to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), an emerging trade and investment agreement being negotiated by the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. The agreement, once completed, will be the largest regional trading block in the world and will serve as the model for 21st century trade agreements. How tobacco is treated now will set the precedent for how tobacco will be treated in TTIP (The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), an even larger agreement, and in future trade agreements worldwide.

As the only consumer good that kills half of its consumers when used exactly as intended, tobacco has become a major issue in the TPP negotiations, with public health and other groups banding together to call for unique treatment of tobacco products. “The purpose of international trade agreements is the free movement of goods, and tobacco is no good,” stated Prakit Vathesatogkit of Thailand during the global tobacco treaty negotiations in Moscow this past October.

The outcomes of the TPP negotiations will have a huge impact on tobacco control and global health. The tobacco industry has long used litigation, and trade agreements in particular, as a tool to block public health and tobacco control laws. For example, Philip Morris International created “legal chill” by threatening to sue Togo, one of the 10 poorest countries on earth, if Togo implemented graphic health warning labels on cigarette packs. Additionally, Australia and Uruguay are currently being sued over their tobacco packaging laws.

In 2011, two U.S. tobacco companies sued the FDA over an advisory report that simply considered a ban of menthol cigarettes. The tobacco industry is very comfortable using litigation as a tool, and if tobacco is included in the TPP, tobacco companies will use the TPP to their full advantage to prevent governments from enacting policies that protect the health of their citizens.

The TPP represents a crucial moment for tobacco control. President Obama and USTR Ambassador Froman should insist that tobacco be granted a full “carve out” from the TPP and from all other trade agreements. A “carve out” means that tobacco products will be excluded from the right and benefits of the trade agreement, providing governments with protection to regulate tobacco inside their borders without fear of being sued by the tobacco industry.

Furthermore, all of the TPP countries (except the U.S.) have ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a legally binding international treaty, and have an obligation to implement its measures.  Mary Assunta, Senior Policy Advisor of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) says, “[FCTC] Article 5.3 Guidelines, Recommendation 7.1 says the tobacco industry must not be given any incentives to run its business. Hence the TPPA, a new agreement, should reflect this clause.” The U.S. has not ratified the FCTC, but as a signatory, the U.S. should strive to reach the tobacco control best practices set out in the FCTC.

Unlike other consumer products included in trade agreements that can become harmful when abused or overused, there is no “safe” use or amount of tobacco. Tobacco is the only consumer product that kills when used exactly as intended. The tobacco industry seeks to increase consumption of tobacco, while ASH and its public health allies seek a higher level of global health. There is no “happy medium” to be found between the tobacco industry and the public health community.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1 billion people will die from tobacco this century unless drastic actions are taken. One of those critical actions to take is carving tobacco products out of trade agreements. It is impossible to predict how many lives hang in the balance of the trade debate, but it is certainly millions worldwide. ASH encourages President Obama and Ambassador Froman to utilize TPP has a tool in the global fight against tobacco.

ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber says “The TPP is a moment in history for Obama – he is making a choice about how to treat tobacco that will echo for decades to come. Hopefully that choice is to protect health over profit and carve tobacco out of the TPP.”

 

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ACTION ON SMOKING AND HEALTH

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is the nation’s oldest anti-tobacco organization dedicated to health for all. ASH was formed in 1967 in response to the U.S. Surgeon General Report in order to use legal action to fight tobacco and protect nonsmokers. Today, because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, ASH uses global tools to counter the global tobacco epidemic. Learn more about our programs at www.ash.org.

Follow us on Twitter @ASHOrg and Facebook www.Facebook.com/ASHglobalAction

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A Victory for Standardized Packaging

Earlier this month, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released figures showing that tobacco and cigarette consumption in Australia have dropped dramatically. Household tobacco consumption and expenditure volume has dropped 17.5% in the last two and a half years.

This extraordinary decline can be linked to two things.

First, Australia has increased taxes twice over the past two years. This connection is not a surprise; taxes have been proven as an extremely effective way to decrease tobacco consumption. But the second implementation is groundbreaking. In December 2012, Australia became the first country in the world to implement standardized (or plain) packaging.

Standardized packaging, also known as plain packaging, refers to tobacco product packaging that is required by law to remove all branding, including colors, images, logos and trademarks. Tobacco corporations are allowed to print only the brand name on the packs, and the name must meet requirements for size, font and placement. The rest of the pack is dedicated to health warnings and other required information.

Standardized Cigarette Packaging

Standardized Cigarette Packaging via ASH Australia

The goal is to ban colorful, glamorous and exciting tobacco product packaging that so often targets and appeals to young people.

There have been arguments from the tobacco industry that standardized packaging doesn’t work. They argue that it will lead to an increase in illicit sales because it will be easier to counterfeit the packages.  In Australia, this has been proven to be extremely exaggerated. Read more here>.

Furthermore, tobacco companies argue that standardized packaging does not decrease smoking. But, the numbers speak for themselves. Australia has clearly proven the tobacco industry wrong.

Several countries, including Ireland, England and Scotland, are working to implement standardized packaging in their countries as well.

We hope that Ireland, England, Scotland and many other countries will follow Australia’s lead to implement standardized packaging and dramatic decrease tobacco consumption.  Follow ASH’s blog and news updates for the latest on standardized packaging around the world.

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International Smoke-free Air Successes

Many Americans view smoking, and secondhand smoke, as a problem that has mostly been solved, at least in the United States.

However, only half of all Americans are protected from exposure to secondhand smoke, whether in public places or at work.

Several countries around the world have achieved complete protection for their citizens. With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ASH has written case studies on two of these success stories: France, Uruguay. Now we add a third, Switzerland, which presents a more mixed result in a federal system similar to the U.S.

ASH’s case studies are meant to help illustrate how these countries addressed the problem of secondhand smoke and to help provide guidance to countries that are still working toward complete protection for their citizens.

FRANCE

Many people thought smoke-free air in France was impossible. The very image of France was of people eating, drinking, and smoking in outdoor cafes. Smoking was glamourized and thought to be inextricably linked to French culture. However, now France has a comprehensive smoke-free air law. Here are some of the primary lessons learned from the fight for smoke-free air in France. France Case Study

  • If at first you don’t succeed, try again
    • France tried to implement a law that included smoke-free air as early as 1991. However, the law was vague and poorly enforced. When the new smoke-free laws were written, the drafters were careful to avoid these same mistakes, and the new law was much stronger.
  • Use litigation as a tool for public health
    • Litigation was strategically used to enforce France’s original smoke-free law, in order to raise public awareness and to press for stronger enforcement. Private litigation also raised the profile of this issue.

 

Of course, smoke-free air in France was much more complicated than these two lessons. To read more about the path to smoke-free air in France, read our case study here>

URUGUAY

Smoking, and secondhand smoke, continues to be a growing problem in Latin America. In the early 2000s, a study in seven Latin American countries found second-hand smoke in 94% of the public locations surveyed, including not only in bars and restaurants but also in schools, government buildings, and other places where smoking was prohibited by law. Read more here>. However, Uruguay has managed to buck the trend and create a very comprehensive smoke-free air law. Here are some of the lessons to learn from Uruguay. Uruguay Case Study

  • Utilize the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)
    • The FCTC is based on science and best practice, and it is backed by the WHO, the world’s leading health authority. As a small country, Uruguay found the FCTC invaluable as a tool to convince policymakers and civil society of both the need for tobacco regulations and the efficacy of the proposed interventions. Uruguay did not need to “reinvent the whee.” The FCTC already provided ample evidence of the effectiveness of nearly all potential tobacco control measures.
  • Fight tobacco, not smokers
    • Uruguay involved nearly a third of its population in the “Thanks a Million” campaign, which garnered 1 million signatures to thank the roughly 1 million smokers for compliance with smoke-free rules. Due to that campaign, smokers were more willing to comply with “no smoking” signs, because they felt that those efforts were appreciated. This campaign went a long way toward assuring public acceptance of tobacco control measures.

 

To read more about smoke-free air in Uruguay, see our case study here>.

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland has been working toward smoke-free public places for many years. Because of the federal system in the country, local laws were passed long before the national law. Smoke-free legislation in Switzerland has been subjected to several legal challenges by tobacco companies. Due to the slow legislative process at the cantonal level, weak national legislation, and opposition from the tobacco industry, Switzerland as a whole has a substantial amount of work left to do. However, many cantons (a jurisdiction similar to a U.S. state) have made great strides towards protecting their citizens from the harms of secondhand smoke. Here are some the lessons learned from the fight for smoke-free air in Switzerland. Swiss Case study

  • Use the democratic system to your advantage
    • In Switzerland, as in many other countries, localities have the right to pass their own laws. By passing local smoke-free air laws, individual cantons drove the national government to create a federal law on the topic.
  • Once there is a model in a jurisdiction, target new jurisdictions that view themselves as similar
    • In a country with multiple jurisdictions, each jurisdiction views itself as more kindred with some neighbors than others. In the U.S., Nebraska is more likely to look to Kansas than to New York. In Switzerland, all of the French speaking cantons passed smoke-free air laws, based on a model from Geneva, another French-speaking canton.

 

To read more about smoke-free air in Switzerland, read the full case study here>.

To read more about tobacco control best practices around the world and how they can be implemented in the United States, please see ASH’s FCTC Implementation Guide>.

 

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Tobacco Demonstrates Troubles for Trade Agreements

In 2012, Australia implemented tough anti-tobacco regulations, requiring that all cigarettes be sold in plain, logo-free brown packages dominated by health warnings. Philip Morris Asia filed suit, claiming that this violated its intellectual-property rights and would damage its investments. The company sued Australia in domestic court and lost.

But it had another card to play. In 1993, Australia had signed a free-trade agreement with Hong Kong, where Philip Morris Asia is based. That agreement included provisions protecting foreign investors from unfair treatment. So the company sued under that deal, claiming that the new law violated the investor-protection provisions. It asked for the regulations to be discontinued, and for billions in compensation.

Read more>

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Australian plain packaging leads to dramatic declines in tobacco use

The tobacco industry has been hit by the heaviest declines on record amid otherwise strong economic growth for the nation, the latest figures show.

Treasurer Joe Hockey may have described the national accounts figures released Tuesday as a “terrific set of numbers”, but tobacco and cigarette consumption has taken a dramatic tumble, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Household tobacco consumption and expenditure volume fell 10.1 per cent over the past 12 months, and 17.5 per cent in the past two and a half years, according to the seasonally adjusted data.

Read more>

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Ukraine drops WTO action against Australian tobacco-packaging laws

(Reuters) – Ukraine has suspended a case it was pursuing through the World Trade Organization aimed at overturning Australia’s strict tobacco packaging laws, a WTO panel of adjudicators said in a statement published on Wednesday.

Ukraine asked the panel to suspend the proceedings on May 28 and said it will try to find a mutually agreed solution with Australia, the statement said.

Honduras, Cuba, Indonesia and Dominican Republic are also challenging Australia’s tobacco packaging laws at the WTO. There was no indication that their litigation would be affected.

A growing number of countries have said they plan to follow Australia’s 2010 step, banning flashy logos and distinctive-coloured cigarette packaging in favour of drab olive packets that look more like military or prison issue, with brand names printed in small standardised fonts.

Read more>

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Tobacco & Human Rights in Latin America

An article written by ASH Staff Attorney Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy was recently published in the American Bar Association’s “International Law News.” The article discusses the growing problem of tobacco use in Latin American countries. journal 1

There are 145 million current smokers in Latin America, more than half of whom will die from smoking related causes. Many of the countries in Latin America have signed the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which implements best practices to effectively reduce tobacco use. Yet, many of these countries are failing to live up to the obligations of this treaty.

In failing to protect their citizens from the harms of tobacco, countries are violating international human rights laws.

A suit could be filed within the Inter-American system on the basis of human rights violations, as a more concrete step to stop this epidemic. A suit filed in the Inter-American court, a regional human rights court, could be based on the violation of the right to health and could include violations of other rights such as the right to life, women’s rights and child rights. There are other options as well: an argument could be made that tobacco control laws do not provide equal protection for particularly vulnerable groups (for example, children).

A case in the Inter-American system would draw worldwide attention to tobacco as a human rights issue and could have a huge impact on the fight against tobacco in Latin America and around the world.

To read the entire article in ABA’s “International Law News”, click here>.

To read more about ASH’s work in criminal liability and potential human rights litigation, click here>

To read more about tobacco and human rights, click here>

If you have questions or would like more information please contact ASH Staff Attorney Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy at romeo-stuppyk@ash.org.

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Tobacco Companies Ordered to Pay $15B in Damages

Three tobacco companies have been ordered to pay $15 billion in damages after losing a historic court case.

Judge Brian Riordan on Monday ruled in favour of two groups representing Quebec smokers, ordering Imperial Tobacco, Rothmans Benson & Hedges and JTI-MacDonald to pay for punitive and moral damages.

“It’s a big day for victims of tobacco, who have been waiting for about 17 years for this decision. It was a long process — but arrived at the destination and it’s a big victory,” said Mario Bujold, executive director of the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health.

Read more>

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Thailand Raises Minimum Age to 20 to Purchase Cigarettes

BANGKOK, 28 May 2014 (NNT) – The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the tobacco draft act which prohibits sale of cigarettes to those under 20 years old and raise punishment for offenders.

Deputy Prime Minister YongyutnYuthawong said the draft act increased the minimum legal age for cigarette purchase from 18 to 20 years and prohibited sale of individual cigarettes. The draft act also prohibits cigarette sale in some public places such as temples, public health facilities, schools and public parks, the deputy PM added.

The draft act bans cigarette companies from advertising their products as sponsors of contests and competitions. Cigarette advertising is banned in print and online media, TV and movies.

Read more>

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#StopMarlboro

Marlboro’s “Be Marlboro” campaign is in the news again – this time because of a copyright claim.

#JeffWeCan Flash Mob in Times Square

#JeffWeCan Flash Mob in Times Square

Since 2011, Philip Morris International (PMI), which owns the Marlboro brand, has been running its “Be Marlboro” campaign in several countries. The ads depict parties, clubs, sports and other images clearly targeted at young people, while telling the audience “Don’t Be A Maybe.” The campaign and the major promotional events associated with it are a desperate attempt by the corporation to prevent PMI’s decreasing sales from continuing to decline.

Recently, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids compiled Marlboro marketing videos and uploaded them, without any editing, to Vimeo, a video sharing website.  The videos were taken down, because Philip Morris claims they are a copyright infringement.  Read more about it here>.

The most recent data shows that the tobacco industry spends more than $1 million a day in the U.S. targeting young adults. In addition to the “Be Marlboro” campaign run in over 60 foreign countries, the industry’s ongoing marketing tactics include using corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a way to market. For example, PMI donates to the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Club, the Kennedy Center, and Ford’s Theatre. See more about tobacco CSR here>. But when organizations try to show how dangerous that marketing can be, Philip Morris uses its lawyers to prevent them from sharing the truth.

ASH changes "Don't be a Maybe" into "Don't be a Target"
ASH changes “Be Marlboro” into “Be Tobacco-Free”

 

ASH, along with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, recently organized a flash mob with Jeff the Diseased Lung, the character created by HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (shown below).

The flash mob, which took place the same day as PMI’s shareholders meeting, was intended to  use fun, dance, and social media to draw attention to PMI’s marketing tactics. It also provided a chance for more than 50 youth and young adult advocates from across the U.S. to make a united, public statement that they won’t be manipulated into using tobacco by PMI’s marketing.

You can watch a video of the flash mob here, or find it on social media using #JeffWeCan and #StopMarlboro:

ASH also produced a video that illustrates how tobacco companies target youth:

Watch John Oliver discuss some of PMI’s other legal tactics and introduce Jeff the Diseased Lung:

 

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Tobacco Taxes are Front & Center in Influential Post-2015 Report!

The UN’s post-2015 development goal process is still in full swing. Member states have spent the last week discussing ways to finance the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These discussions are all setting the stage for the Financing for Development (Ffd) conference in Addis Ababa this July, where UN member states will finalize their decisions on how to fund the SDGs. SDSN Report

Raising tobacco taxes to fund development work is a win for tobacco control, a win for public health, and a win for development!

Tobacco taxes have been recognized by Jeffrey Sachs (a highly respected economist) and his team from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in their new report on financing sustainable development. The SDSN makes recommendations on various SDG matters.

ASH submitted suggestions to the first draft of this SDSN document in which tobacco taxes were not a major focus. Now, tobacco taxes are included in the paper, front and center. There are several crucial references, demonstrating that tobacco taxes cause a reduction of tobacco consumption, improve overall health, and can be a source of revenue for governments.

Member states will review and consider this document when drafting the final version of the Addis Accord – the resulting outcome of the Financing for Development (Ffd) meeting in Ethiopia this July.

We will continue advocating for the inclusion of tobacco control in the post-2015 UN development agenda which will benefit the entire public health community.

Stay tuned!

The SDSN report is available here>

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Princeton, NJ bans tobacco sales to customers under 21

Princeton has become the fifth New Jersey town to ban tobacco sales to customers under 21.

The town’s health board unanimously adopted the ordinance.

Read more>

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Earth Day 2015 – The Unforeseen Consequences of Tobacco

Most people view cigarettes as a health problem, but they are a huge environmental problem as well. The entire life cycle of a cigarette has an impact on the environment – from growing the tobacco to throwing away the butt.

Tobacco Farming

Tobacco cultivation is responsible for a myriad of environmental problems, including land and water pollution due to pesticides as well as deforestation.  Tobacco plants are prone to many insect pests, and therefore tobacco farmers are forced to use pesticides to keep the plants healthy.  Not only do tobacco growers often get sick from the pesticides, but the pesticides also leach into the soil and water. 

Image- World Wild Fund for Nature

Image- World Wild Fund for Nature

Tobacco growth and cultivation also causes deforestation. Trees are often cut down to make room for tobacco plants. Once tobacco plants have been harvested, they are “cured.” Sometimes the curing is done by air drying, but often tobacco is cured by burning wood to heat the air, which speeds up the process.

It’s estimated that 600 million trees are cut down every year to produce tobacco products and cigarette-manufacturing machines use up to four miles of paper an hour to roll and package cigarettes.

To read more about tobacco farming click here>

Air Pollution

As mentioned above, tobacco cultivation is a source of air pollution. But cigarettes also have a significant effect on air pollution while they are being smoked. When cigarettes are burned, they create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are poisonous.

A study in Italy found that cigarettes release 10 times as much particulate matter into the air as a diesel engine. Smoke from cigarettes and from tobacco cultivation is contributing to climate change.

It’s well established that second hand smoke is extremely dangerous. It should be considered an environmental problem as well as a public health concern.

To read more about tobacco and air pollution click here> or here>

Butts

In 2009, tobacco products—primarily cigarette butts— comprised nearly 38% of all collected litter items from roadways and streets.  In 2010, over one million (1,181,589) cigarettes or cigarette filters—enough to fill 94,626 packs—were removed from American beaches and inland waterways. Cigarette butts are toxic to animals and children that may swallow them, they pollute groundwater, and they leach chemicals into soil. Compounding this problem is the waste from other items related to smoking such as cigarette packages and lighters or matches.  Cigarette butts and other tobacco-related trash are a massive environmental problem.

To read more about cigarette butts, click here>  or here>

What can you do?

Quit Smoking

– not only is it good for your health, it’s good for the environment!

Become an Advocate

– Communities across the United States are beginning to take action against tobacco waste.  Contact your local, state, or federal officials and voice your opinion on tobacco waste!

Utilize your Network

– help educate your network and the public about the environmental harms of tobacco by sharing this and other information, especially on Twitter or Facebook using this sample message:

This #EarthDay, learn how unforeseen consequences of tobacco can cause so much harm: ash.org/earthday2015 #StandWithHealth @ASHOrg

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Hillary pressed to take on Big Tobacco

Public health groups are urging newly minted Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to follow in her husband’s footsteps and take on Big Tobacco.

The calls for Clinton to make the issue part of her campaign platform take place amid a growing push to raise the national smoking age to 21.

“From a national standpoint, we’d love to see Mrs. Clinton run on a public health platform and specifically a tobacco reform platform,” said Chris Bostic, deputy director for policy at the Action on Smoking & Health.

“I’m not a skilled political analyst, but if you look at the polling numbers it would seem to be a winner. Even smokers don’t want to see their kids, nieces and nephews smoking.”

Read more>

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Use of E-Cigarettes Rises Sharply Among Teenagers, Report Says

E-cigarettes have arrived in the life of the American teenager.

Use of the devices among middle- and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014, according to federal data released on Thursday, bringing the share of high school students who use them to 13 percent — more than smoke traditional cigarettes. The sharp rise, together with a substantial increase in the use of hookah pipes, led to 400,000 additional young people using a tobacco product in 2014, the first increase in years, though researchers pointed out it fell within the margin of error. About a quarter of all high school students and 8 percent of middle school students — 4.6 million young people altogether — used tobacco in some form last year.

The numbers came as a surprise and seemed to pitch policy makers into uncharted territory. The Food and Drug Administration took its first tentative step toward regulating e-cigarettes last year, but the process is slow and many experts worry that habits are forming far faster than rules are being written. Because e-cigarettes are so new, little is known about their long-term health effects, leaving regulators scrambling to gather data.

Read more>
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Action Review: 1st Quarter Edition 2015

post 2015 YE blogTobacco and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The inclusion of tobacco control in the Sustainable Development Goals has been in the works for several years. It is due to various advocacy efforts of the Framework Convention Alliance and the support of NGO partners and allied missions in New York and at country level. In the early stages of the post-2015 process, support for tobacco control and the FCTC was limited. However, as time went on various synergies formed between member states, other NGOs, and the tobacco control community to achieve this goal.

FCA worked to represent the tobacco control community within the various UN entities in New York. They worked with the NGO major to include tobacco control in their recommendations for the 10th Open Working Group negotiations. There were several champions of tobacco control during the OWG negotiations, including Palau, who relentlessly emphasized the importance of the FCTC as an integral part of sustainable development. In addition, Uruguay strongly supported the inclusion of the FCTC at the World Health Assembly in 2014. Several other countries showed their unwavering support including: Jamaica, Belgium, Australia, Peru, and Costa Rica.

During the civil society hearing for the OWG negotiations, FCA had the opportunity to speak about the importance of the FCTC in the SDGs. The global tobacco control community was determined to promote the FCTC in the SDGs and to be involved in the process as well. This dedication was demonstrated by their participation in various online consultations. The FCA stressed the importance of tobacco control and the FCTC at a side event for civil society and member states, as well as on a panel at the CSW58.

The FCTC was first included in the zero draft for OWG 12 as a target under goal 17 for means of implementation. This target was at risk for being removed by a few countries who felt as though the FCTC was too specific to include. After several countries showed support for the need for the FCTC, it was maintained in the final draft of the OWG proposal. It was also moved to goal 3 (3a), as a means of implementation target under the health goal.

After several years of hard work and advocacy efforts in New York and at country level, the FCTC has been included in the Sustainable Development Goals. This seemed like a far-fetched goal at the beginning of this journey. Fortunately, the goal was attained due to collaboration, persistence, and hard work. Countries must now implement the FCTC in order to achieve comprehensive tobacco control at the national level to reduce morbidity and mortality due to tobacco use.

3Trade

Trade and tobacco issues featured prominently at this year World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH), including a full half-day pre-conference workshop, a tri-plenary and a symposium co-sponsored by ASH. In addition, the risk of trade lawsuits came up in nearly every substantive policy discussion. This is in stark contrast to the 2012 WCTOH in Singapore, at which ASH pushed hard to have a single panel devoted to trade. ASH also worked with allies to achieve the adoption of a strong declaration on trade:

“Going forward governments treat tobacco uniquely in all trade and investment and support one another in excluding tobacco from trade and investment agreements that are under negotiation.”

ASH was also able to advance discussions with European allies over the negotiation of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and will be attending a meeting in Edinburgh in June to formulate strategy.

TCLIP quote 2Criminal Liability

ASH recently attended the World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) where we presented the criminal liability program on two different panels, one organized by ASH, and one that we were invited to join by the Human Rights and Tobacco Control Network. WCTOH has been held every three years since 1967, and is the preeminent gathering of researchers, advocates and government officials on the global tobacco epidemic.

We also hosted a side event, attended by tobacco control experts at the conference to discuss suggestions, concerns and assistance moving forward with the criminal liability program. 8 countries were represented at the side event, as well as several attorneys with long experience litigating against the tobacco industry.

In the closing plenary, in front of over 2,000 attendees from 100 countries, Professor Harry Lando, the chair of the scientific program committee, mentioned criminal liability as a potential path forward. This is a significant step for the program; we passed the “straight face” test and the tobacco control community views criminal liability as a viable option in the tobacco endgame.

 

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Tobacco Free Generation

In Tasmania, Australia last week, a bill was introduced to the Legislative Council that would create a “Tobacco Free Generation.”  You can read the draft text of the bill here>.

The phrase tobacco free generation is used widely and it often has different meanings. Some use it to describe a social movement that encourages young people not to smoke and to get involved in tobacco control efforts. tobacco18

However, “Tobacco Free Generation” is a unique concept that refers to proposed legislation that no one born after a certain date (often 2000) will ever be allowed to purchase tobacco products.

Essentially, the age to buy tobacco products will just keep increasing.

For example, in 2018, no 18 year olds will be able to buy tobacco products, essentially increasing the age to purchase tobacco products to 19. However, in the following year, 2019, 19 year olds will not be able to purchase tobacco products.

This solution allows current smokers to keep buying tobacco products if they so choose, but it will prevent tobacco addiction from spreading to the next generation.

Tasmania is not the only government considering this concept.

The organization TFG Singapore also has a proposal for a law. In addition to the legislation, TFG Singapore is focused on creating a social movement towards a tobacco free generation.  You can see some of their information sheets and videos on their website.

In Tasmania, a vote on the proposed bill has been delayed because the bill was sent to a Legislative Council committee. If the bill does pass, Tasmania would be the first to pass a “Tobacco Free Generation Proposal” and with that, would become a leader in tobacco end-game strategies, not to mention saving the lives of Tasmanians for generations to come.

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Amos Hausner | Smokefree Israel

Hear this interview from Amos Hausner who is involved in the Smokefree kaupapa in Israel.

He’s currently in Aotearoa and spoke with Dale Husband.

Listen here>

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France: MEPs adopt neutral package for cigarettes

The measure, if adopted by the full Parliament, will take effect in May 2016. The ban on smoking in cars in the presence of a minor was also adopted.

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We’re Almost There!

In the past two and half years, ASH has been working to ensure that tobacco control is included in the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals are being created to set countries’ development agendas for the next 15 years.

In the expiring UN Millennium Development Goals, tobacco control and NCDs were left out. And the global tobacco control community felt those repercussions, as there were scarce resources allocated at the national level for tobacco control programs.

We simply could not let this happen again! ASH has been advocating at the UN to guarantee that tobacco control and NCDs will be a development priority for countries this time around.

We are happy to report some good news! 

Last week, the draft SDGs were not edited during the latest round of discussions! Why is that good news? Because, last July, the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development finalized their draft for the new SDGs, and the legally-binding WHO treaty on tobacco control (the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the FCTC) was included! With every round of edits, there is a chance that tobacco control and NCDs will lose their prime location in the future of global development plans.

The OWG’s proposal for the SDGs is the result of nearly two years of global negotiations. Because of the extensive amount of time and effort put into these negotiations by the OWG, UN member states are reluctant to reopen the text, as they fear it may unravel the entire framework. Although it is not completely impossible that the text could be changed, it is very unlikely.

We encourage UN member states to move forward with the current draft of the SDGs, and we encourage the public health and tobacco control communities to start planning and strategizing ways to effectively use the SDGs to advance tobacco control and FCTC implementation in their own countries.

The SDG framework, including the new goals and targets, will be finalized at the UN General Assembly this September in New York.

ASH will continue to monitor the events at the UN and to advocate for the inclusion of tobacco control and NCDs in the SDGs, as well as in the indicator development process and the Financing for Development process, both of which have already mentioned tobacco control in their draft proposals.

Stay tuned!

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PHAI Takes Cigarette Companies to Court

 The Public Health Advocacy Institute (“PHAI”) announced today that its newly formed Center for Public Health Litigation has filed lawsuits against two major tobacco companies and several local distributors on behalf of the families of two former smokers who suffered devastating disease from smoking cigarettes.

“This is the first time a non-profit organization has directly taken on the tobacco industry in court,” said Richard Daynard, University Distinguished Professor at Northeastern University School of Law and the President of PHAI.  “Big Tobacco kills more than 50% of the people who buy its products, and it has for years tried to deny its legal responsibility for this public health calamity. The Center for Public Health Litigation is going to ask the Massachusetts courts to hold the tobacco companies accountable in these two cases, and in more cases to be filed soon.”

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Leaked TPP investment chapter shows US tobacco control rules at risk

WASHINGTON — An ambitious 12-nation trade accord pushed by President Obama would allow foreign corporations to sue the United States government for actions that undermine their investment “expectations” and hurt their business, according to a classified document.

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Hollywood and Tobacco: New Spotlight on Smoking At The Movies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 24, 2015

Hollywood and Tobacco: New Spotlight on Smoking At The Movies

Launch of Revamped UCSF Website Ranks Actors, Directors, Top 10 Movies by Their Use of Tobacco 

 

UC San Francisco is launching a revamped Smokefree Movies website that offers the public unusual insight into Hollywood’s role in the global tobacco epidemic, projected to kill one billion people this century.

Updated every week, the site ranks film producers, directors, writers and actors by their on-screen tobacco footprint based on a database of more than 2,000 films released since 2002.

The site currently lists the five “smokiest” actors, directors, and producers since 2002 as:

Actors Directors Producers
Leonardo DiCaprio Martin Scorsese Grant Heslov
J.K. Simmons George Clooney George Clooney
Vince Vaughn Clint Eastwood Scott Rudin
Hugh Jackman Peter Jackson Brian Grazer
Viggo Mortensen Quentin Tarantino Graham King

 

Additionally, the website’s “Now Showing” feature reveals the tobacco content of the top ten movies in theaters and on DVD each week. It also provides information about film companies. For example in the last three years, Time Warner accounted for 22% of all the tobacco impressions in top grossing films. That was the same amount for independent producer-distributors (22%), followed by Sony (17%), Fox (14%), Viacom (Paramount) (11%), Comcast (Universal) (8%), and Disney (6%).

Smoking in movies, encouraged for decades by tobacco company cross-promotions and product placements, leads to thousands of new young smokers every year, according to federal health officials.

“The major media companies and the Hollywood studios they own have known since at least 2002 that smoking in movies causes kids to smoke and eventually die from a long list of tobacco diseases,” says Stanton Glantz, PhD, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, which created the movie website. “By looking at top-grossing movies and putting all the key health information in one place, the website gives everyone from parents and public officials to film critics and Wall Street analysts an inside look at the tobacco choices Hollywood producers are making now.”

The website:

  • Traces the history of commercial collaboration by U.S. tobacco and film industries;
  • Summarizes scientific research in a dozen countries supporting the U.S. Surgeon General’s conclusion that exposure to on-screen smoking causes kids to smoke;
  • Offers evidence-based policy solutions based by the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other leading health authorities;
  • Monitors in real time the progress or failure of specific media companies and their movie studio subsidiaries to safeguard young audiences worldwide by reserving smoking for their R-rated films.

 

U.S public health officials for years have warned that exposure to on-screen smoking causes young people to start smoking. The CDC has decried the movie industry’s failure to protect impressionable young viewers, and in 2012 the Surgeon General reported that because of the onscreen exposure, “6.4 million children alive today will become smokers, and 2 million of these children will die prematurely from diseases caused by smoking.”

A significant number of the movies depicting smoking were rated PG-13, the Surgeon General reported.

“The CDC reports that R-ratings on movies with smoking can prevent a million future tobacco deaths among American kids alone,” Glantz says. “The media company chiefs could easily direct their trade group, the Motion Picture Association of America, to add smoking to the voluntary R-rating standard, alongside the non-lethal content it already rates R. The longer they delay, the more kids worldwide will be addicted to cigarettes by the smoking in the movies Hollywood makes and exports.”

The Smokefree Movies website uses data collected by UCSF partner Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down!, an ongoing project of Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails. Since 1995, more than a thousand volunteers between the ages of 14 and 22 have been trained to analyze tobacco content in all films grossing more than $1 million in the domestic market.

Historical resources for the Smokefree Movies website include the 82 million-page Legacy Tobacco Documents Library housed at UCSF. Other information is gathered from film industry sources. UCSF’s Smoke Free Movies receives foundation support for its policy research and education projects.

For further information visit http://smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu/ and http://www.scenesmoking.org/

UCSF is the nation’s leading university exclusively focused on health. Now celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding as a medical college, UCSF is dedicated to transforming health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with world-renowned programs in the biological sciences, a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and top-tier hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. Please visit www.ucsf.edu.

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New Global Fund to Help Countries Defend Smoking Laws

Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced on Wednesday that they had started a global fund to help low- and middle-income countries fight legal challenges to their smoking laws by the tobacco industry.

The fund is modest, at least so far, with a total of $4 million from the two charities. But Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and the financial data and news company Bloomberg LP, said in a conference call with reporters that the investment was more like an initial marker, and that it was expected to grow as more donors joined the effort.

“The fact that there is a fund dedicated to taking on the tobacco companies in court sends a message that they are not going to get a free ride,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “If they say that’s not a lot of money — yes, well, take a look at who’s behind it.”

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