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ASH Statement of Support for Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA)

ASH Statement of Support for Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA)

 

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is a Washington, DC based non-governmental organization fully devoted to supporting global health and international tobacco control efforts. As the oldest anti-tobacco organization in the U.S., 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 non-smokers. Because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, today ASH uses global tools to counter the global tobacco epidemic.

American think-tank, the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) has written to SEATCA a tobacco control NGO in Thailand, a letter riddled with false accusations.

ASH stands firmly with SEATCA in its reaction to the petty attack from the International Tax and Investment Center. Through its efforts to end the tobacco epidemic, SEATCA has no doubt saved many lives, and ASH has been proud to work alongside them on many issues. While SEATCA works to save lives, the tobacco industry continues to profit from a product that it knows – indeed engineered – to be deadly when used as directed.

The rationale for ITIC’s attack is obvious. As SEATCA points out, there is an irreconcilable conflict of interest between health and the tobacco industry, and ITIC is demonstrably part of the tobacco industry. The only conclusion we can draw is that SEATCA is worryingly – from ITIC’s perspective – effective in its mission. Over its nearly 50 year history ASH has been attacked by the tobacco industry multiple times, and is proud of each instance. We hope SEATCA takes some pride in this attack.

Multinational tobacco companies have known for decades their status as pariahs, and have long used front groups like ITIC to do their public outreach. Their facade is thin and unconvincing.

Dr. Johns should be ashamed for his role in perpetuating disease and death. Dr. Johns’ attacks on the World Health Organization and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are equally ludicrous. The global response to the tobacco epidemic has saved tens of millions of lives, and promises to save perhaps a billion more. One cannot measure that success against the profits of corporations that deal in addiction and death.

ASH congratulates SEATCA on this clear indication of its effectiveness, and is proud to count SEATCA among its friends and allies.

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Tony Gwynn’s Family Sues Tobacco Industry, Seeking Recourse Over Fatal Habit

The family of Tony Gwynn, a baseball Hall of Famer who died of salivary gland cancer in 2014, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Monday against the tobacco industry, charging that Gwynn had been manipulated into the addiction to smokeless tobacco that ultimately killed him.

Read more>

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Insurer AXA to pull out of tobacco investments

French insurer AXA plans to stop investing in the tobacco industry, citing the impact of smoking on public health, and said it plans to sell its 1.8 billion euros ($2.02 billion) of assets in the sector.

AXA said it would divest its 200 million euros of equity holdings in tobacco companies immediately. It plans to stop all new investments in tobacco industry corporate bonds and to run off its existing holdings worth about 1.6 billion euros.

“With this divestment from tobacco, we are doing our share to support the efforts of governments around the world,” incoming AXA Chief Executive Thomas Buberl said in a statement on Monday.

Read more>

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June 2016: Matching Campaign

Help ASH participate in the 7th round of the tobacco treaty negotiations in India this November. Every donation made from June 1 – 30, 2016 will be matched by a private donor, up to $2,000.

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Building on our policy successes at the preceding 6 global negotiation sessions for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), ASH staff will champion several measures to better implement the treaty and to hold governments accountable to implement its life-saving measures. COP6 room cropped

DSC_0388  DSC_0339

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Action Review: 1st Quarter Edition 2016

BAT PETITIONBAT

Thank you all for your support of our joint petition in January. This week, ASH joined allies (Corporate Accountability International, Public Citizen, & International Labor Rights Forum) to deliver 45,091 petition signatures to the U.S. Department of Justice, calling on DOJ to open an investigation on British American Tobacco (BAT)’s alleged corruption in East Africa.

ASH Blog

BLog
National Nutrition Month


How Tobacco Companies Factor Into The Presidential Primaries


The tobacco industry has been using nicotine addiction to their advantage since the beginning. And we need YOUR help to stop them.

Together, we can build a healthier world for you and your loved ones. You can support the fight by making a generous donation TODAY and please consider becoming a monthly supporter.

 

Donate Now

Upcoming ASH Event

Hearing Invite
Hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to address the impact of the tobacco epidemic on human rights. Learn more here> and watch the livestream on April 5th at 10:15am Eastern here>


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Manhattan Co-op Resident Wins $120K in Lawsuit Over Secondhand Smoke Infiltration


Video: Do Movies Cause Kids to Smoke?

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Tobacco Firms Lose Court Challenge Over Packaging

The tobacco industry lost its High Court challenge to the UK government’s regulations on standardised “plain” cigarette packaging.

Read more>

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Justices turn down Philip Morris appeal of $25M judgment

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has rejected Philip Morris USA’s appeal of a $25 million punitive damages award to the family of a dead smoker in Oregon.

The justices on Monday are leaving in place a state appeals court ruling that likened the cigarette maker’s role in smoker Michelle Schwarz’s death to manslaughter under Oregon law, had the case been pursued in criminal court.

Read more>

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Cancer Council chief calls for a smoke free future

Cancer Council fully supports proposals to ban smoking in the presence of children, and has asked whether it’s time to actively consider a generational phase-out of cigarettes.

Read more>

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We Agree: Put Big Tobacco out of business

The embattled tobacco industry is struggling to fight off one of its fiercest and possibly most dangerous foes to date: the World Health Organization.

The Hong Kong native who has run the U.N. body for the past decade, Margaret Chan, takes evident pride in being called Big Tobacco’s public enemy No. 1, saying that her goal is to “make sure that the tobacco industry goes out of business.”

Read on>

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New, sweeping federal rules bar e-cigarette sales to teens younger than 18

The Obama administration on Thursday announced controversial new rules for electronic cigarettes, cigars, hookahs and pipe tobacco, including barring the sales of the products to teens under 18 years old.

The new requirements, which go into effect in 90 days, mark the first time the Food and Drug Administration has regulated any of the items.

The rules compel retailers to verify the age of purchasers by photo identification and bar sales of the products in vending machines that are accessible to minors. They also ban the distribution of free samples.

Read more>

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Dutch lawyer starts criminal case against tobacco firms

A Dutch lawyer and lung cancer patient are planning to take tobacco companies to court for for producing cigarettes designed to turn people into addicts as quickly as possible.

Lawyer Benedicte Ficq and cancer victim Anne Marie van Veen are putting together a criminal case against cigarette producers, arguing that out of court settlements do not go far enough.

‘I want to see tobacco firms prosecuted for deliberately damaging people’s health,’ Ficq told television programme RTL Late Night.

Tobacco firms cannot hide behind the freedom of choice of people to smoke because they are deliberately influencing smokers’ behaviour, Ficq and Van Veen argue.

Read more>

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Earth Day 2016

The harmful impacts of smoking go well beyond each individual smoker. Cigarettes have a negative impact on the environment throughout their entire life cycle – from Earth Day 2016growing the tobacco to disposing of the butts. ASH blogs have highlighted several of the environmental harms of tobacco, including cigarette butt pollution. In honor of Earth Day 2016, we are highlighting the devastating effects that tobacco farming, curing, and manufacturing have on the environment.

Pesticides and fertilizers

Tobacco is a difficult plant to grow, and therefore growers rely on pesticides to protect the plants from insects and disease, and they rely on large amounts of inorganic fertilizers. Some tobacco crops receive up to sixteen applications of chemicals. These chemicals harm birds and other small animals, decrease soil fertility, and in some cases, cause ozone depletion. Tobacco workers, who are unfortunately often children, are also exposed to these toxic chemicals. The chemicals leach into the soil and watercourses, contaminating drinking supplies and food chains.

According to the General Accounting Office, every year an estimated 27 million pounds of pesticides are sprayed onto tobacco fields in the United States, and tobacco ranks sixth among all agriculture in the amount of pesticides applied per acre. Read more here>.

Deforestation

In many developing countries, wood is burned to cure tobacco leaves (in order to dry the leaves before they are transported) and to construct curing barns. An estimated 200,000 hectares of forests and woodlands are cut down each year because of tobacco farming – 5% of global deforestation. This has been a problem particularly in Africa, where tobacco is often cured by smoke. The country of Malawi devotes more than 5% of its farming land to tobacco, and its deforestation rate is the fourth fastest in the world. Read more here>.

Pollution from manufacturing and packaging

The manufacturing of tobacco products also produces an immense amount of waste. In 1995, the global tobacco industry produced an estimated 2.3 billion kilograms of manufacturing waste and 209 million kilograms of chemical waste.

According to one expert, in the United States alone, “eliminating [the production of] cigarettes would yield carbon savings equivalent to raising the fuel efficiency of all cars and trucks by several miles per gallon-or to converting the entire electrical grid of a state like Massachusetts to solar power.” Read more here>.

Over the past century, ten trillion packs of cigarettes have been smoked. As each empty pack weighs about five grams, that adds up to about 110 billion pounds of packaging waste-including paper, ink, cellophane, foil, and glue. This does not include the enormous amount of litter caused by cigarette butts, which are not bio-degradable. Read more here> or read ASH’s blog about cigarette butt pollution here>.

The bottom line? Tobacco is bad for your body and bad for the environment.

This Earth Day, help inform others about the unforeseen environmental harms of tobacco by sharing this blog. Engage with us on twitter (@ASHorg) or Facebook to continue the discussion using #EarthDay

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Are E-Cigarettes a Healthy Way to Quit Smoking?

Supporters say they appear to be effective. Critics say there are better and safer ways to quit smoking.

Read both sides in the Wall Street Journal here>

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Liability: untapped potential in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

ASH Policy Director Chris Bostic, Richard Daynard, and Tamar Lawrence-Samuel (Corporate Accountability International) shed some light on the untapped potential in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
 
“Article 19 has similar—if not greater—potential to curb the operations of the industry, and therefore the tobacco epidemic.”
 
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Pepsico, Philip Morris Face Human Rights Resolutions

The resolution urges companies to agree to participate in mediation of any alleged human rights violations if requested by certain governmental agencies identified by the OECD.

It calls for the companies to mediate disputes involving, among other things, freedom of association and collective bargaining, the elimination of forced or compulsory labor, child labor and discrimination.

Read full article>

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New research published by the World Health Organization (WHO)

This new research by the WHO shows the huge opportunity governments have from increasing taxes on tobacco.
 
WHO found that if cigarette tax increased by US$ 0.8 (or 1 international $) per pack worldwide, as many as 15 million lives of current smokers could be saved, and US$141 billion in extra revenue could be raised.
 
Read the research here: http://goo.gl/xE571e
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Does Tobacco Violate Human Rights?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Megan Arendt

Office: 202-659-4310

Email: arendtm@ash.org

Does Tobacco Violate Human Rights?

Inter-American Commission Ponders Question

WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 6, 2016 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) heard testimony from experts yesterday on why tobacco should be considered a human rights issue. The thematic hearing, held at the Organization of American States (OAS), was the first time the Commission has formally considered tobacco in its work. Tobacco continues to be the number one cause of preventable death in the world, killing about 6 million people per year and causing incalculable disease and economic costs.

Uruguayan Ambassador to the United States Carlos Gianelli Derois said at an Embassy event recognizing the Commission hearing, “We value the fact that the highest OAS body for human rights has decided to hold a special session on this issue as a gesture that reinforces what President Vázquez said during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly last year: ‘Public health is a key element of the sovereignty of our nations, a right of the people, a factor for the development of our societies and an unavoidable responsibility of the State.’

(L-R) Oscar A. Cabrera, Verónica Schoj, Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Chris Bostic, Belén Rios. Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

(L-R) Oscar A. Cabrera, Verónica Schoj, Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Chris Bostic, Belén Rios.
Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

Expert witnesses from three groups – Action on Smoking and Health (ASH US), the InterAmerican Heart Foundation (FIC Argentina) and the O’Neill Institute at Georgetown University Law Center – argued that the failure of governments to curtail tobacco industry practices such as marketing to children and interfering in public health policy amounted to a violation of obligations under several human rights treaties.

The solution, according to the panelists, is the full implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global treaty which has been joined by nearly every country in the Americas. The United States is one of the few holdouts.

Governments have an obligation to provide citizens with the highest attainable standard of health,” said Laurent Huber, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health. “Implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is entirely attainable, it is extremely cost effective, and we know it works.

Panelists focused in particular on the corruptive practices of the tobacco industry in pushing cigarettes, which kill half of long term users, and advertising that is often aimed at women, young people, children and vulnerable groups. For example, one panelist shared a quote from a tobacco executive who stated “We don’t smoke that s***. We just sell it. We just reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and the stupid.” – R.J. Reynolds Executive, Cited in, First Tuesday, ITV 1992.

The IACHR does not have the authority to oblige governments to enact tobacco control regulations, but it receives periodic human rights reports from its member governments, and can press to have tobacco issues included. The Commission can be instrumental in creating the political will necessary to advance human rights. The panel presented a number of recommendations on further action by the Commission:

1. Give concrete recommendations to States on how to implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control;

2. Recognize that the tobacco industry has developed aggressive strategies that hinder the effective exercise of the right to health;

3. Collaborate closely with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO);

4. Track and include the issue of tobacco control in all lines of work of the Unit on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; and

5. Include the problem of smoking in its Poverty Report.

Following the joint presentation, the Commissioners responded and posed several thoughtful questions. Commissioner Esmeralda de Troitiño of Panama said that she was “impacted and struck” by the hearing. “To see the internal documents showing that they’ve [the tobacco industry] been lying and denying reality! The industry is overstepping their responsibility and going into corruption. That is the strong link that bonds the Commission and organizations to protect fundamental rights.

Click here to view the presentation that was made and associated photos.

 

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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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Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Hearing

View the presentation powerpoint in Spanish and in English. Talking points are below per speaker. Video Disclaimer: The first two presenters will speak in Spanish. ASH staff present third and fourth in English.

Background and press information can be found here.

(L-R) Oscar A. Cabrera, Verónica Schoj, Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Chris Bostic, Belén Rios. Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

(L-R) Oscar A. Cabrera, Verónica Schoj, Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Chris Bostic, Belén Rios.
Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

1. Oscar A. Cabrera, The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University, Washington DC

2. Verónica Schoj, Fundación Interamericana del Corazón Argentina

3.  Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, ASH > Action on Smoking and Health, Washington, DC

Slide- Tobacco Industry In Its Own Words

Good morning, I’m Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Staff Attorney for Action on Smoking and Health. For the next few minutes, I would like to share with you some examples of what the tobacco industry has to say about themselves and their products and also illustrate how the tobacco industry influences social perception about tobacco.

The tobacco industry markets and sells products that they know to be deadly. In fact, they intentionally advertise to women, young people, children and vulnerable groups such as the LGBT community.

Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, ASH. Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, ASH. Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

In 1998, the Attorney’s General of 46 states came to an agreement with the 5 biggest U.S. tobacco companies about advertising and marketing of tobacco products. During that legal action, thousands of pages of internal industry documents were produced as evidence. Much of what we will share with you today is from those documents. That is how we can truly show the difference between what the tobacco industry knew, and what they said.

Slide- Lied for decades

On this slide, you will see that the internal industry documents tell us that by 19533, RJ Reynolds knew that tobacco causes lung cancer. However, RJ Reynolds and other tobacco companies continued to misrepresent that information and confuse the public about the health effects of tobacco for decades.

The picture on the previous slide, of the men testifying before the United States Congress, was taken in 1994. On that day, 7 tobacco executives swore before Congress that they did not believe that nicotine was addictive. However, internal documents show that the industry knew all about the addictiveness of nicotine- from as early as 1963.

Slide- They got lips?

From the internal documents and even some public statements, we have also found out some of the ways that the tobacco industry targets customers.

Many forms of advertising to children in the U.S. were banned by the 1998 master settlement agreement I previously mentioned, including using cartoons, billboards and free samples.

However, the industry still needs replacement smokers to continue to buy their products as their current customers die from tobacco related diseases. As my colleague will demonstrate later in the presentation, the industry still finds many ways to target children around the world. They have illustrated cigarettes as healthful, slimming, glamourous, adventurous and cool. The industry has grown and changed with the times, and they market to what the current societal standard of “cool” is.

Slide- Project SCUM

The tobacco industry has made a point of targeting vulnerable populations other than children as well. This slide shows a business plan, found in the internal documents, that targets, among others, the LGBT community and the homeless population of San Francisco. RJ Reynolds nicknamed the plan “Project SCUM.”

In addition to advertising, tobacco corporations have utilized many approaches to mislead the public about the harms of tobacco.

One common tool has been “junk science.” The tobacco industry has funded scientific studies that are designed to make their products look less dangerous. This helped them build credibility, develop industry-friendly experts, and create confusion about the health effects of their products.

The industry has also paid doctors to testify on their behalf. For example, 6 physicians have been paid to repeatedly testify that cigarettes do not cause head and neck cancers, despite overwhelming scientific consensus that they do.

Thank you.

4. Chris Bostic, ASH > Action on Smoking and Health, Washington, DC

Slide 1 

Chris Bostic, ASH. Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

Chris Bostic, ASH. Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

As we’ve heard, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the Americas and the world. But we know how to prevent it – the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The only requirement to implementing the FCTC is political will.

The tobacco industry is keenly aware of this, and has made sapping political will part of its basic business model. While there is often friction between the interests of commerce and the interests of public health, for tobacco it is different. The FCTC itself recognizes that there is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and governments’ public health goals.

The tobacco industry impedes public health policy in a number of ways, many of which we will not be able to address today.

Let me just mention one key industry strategy – litigation.

The tobacco industry has launched hundreds of cases in response to public health measures at the local, national and international levels. The map above is simply a snapshot of major litigation over a recent two-year period.

There is no other business which makes litigation such a major part of its day-to-day functioning. Rule of law is a vital component of modern democracy, and everyone has the right to seek justice. But the tobacco industry abuses this right to a startling degree.

The tobacco industry knows that it does not need to win cases in order to create what is often termed regulatory chill. The mere threat of costly litigation is often enough. Far too often, governments decide not to risk financial catastrophe and back away from strong tobacco control measures.

Slide 2

Litigation under trade agreements is a well-publicized example of the tobacco industry’s global litigation strategy. Typically in other commercial sectors, such cases cost governments between $3 and 8 million in legal costs, not including any settlement.

However, it is part of the tobacco industry’s strategy to inflict the greatest legal costs possible on governments. Cases are intentionally dragged out and made more complicated in order to increase legal costs.

Slide 3

In December 2015, Australia won its trade case against Philip Morris International over its standardized packaging law.

That case cost the Australian government over $50 million, in spite of the fact that the case was thrown out on jurisdictional grounds without ever getting to the merits of the case.

The Uruguayan government is facing a similar suit from Philip Morris, which has already dragged on for years. It will likely cost the tobacco industry far more than their profits from such a small market. But market share in Uruguay is not the industry’s main concern – they know that other governments are unlikely to follow Uruguay’s example if litigation costs in this case are huge. We know that tobacco regulations were dropped in response to trade litigation threats in Togo, Namibia, the Solomon Islands and even Canada.

Slide 4

The tobacco industry is also adept at buying the favor of politicians, through contributions to political campaigns, through lobbying and through outright bribery.

This headline is just one of the most recent, well-documented accusations.

An example from the Americas is illustrative of how the tobacco industry directly influences government officials.

Throughout the 1990s, British American Tobacco and Philip Morris co-ran the so-called “Latin Project”, which paid doctors and scientists to publish selective data to counter the science on secondhand smoke, in order to prevent smoke-free air regulations. This was long after the tobacco industry knew the dangers of secondhand smoke.

In a moment, you will hear more examples of industry interference in the Americas, but I wanted to put these efforts in a global context.

Such actions by the tobacco industry bring up rights well beyond health and life. Issues of political rights, corruption, and justice, to name a few, should also be considered.

And while these are the acts of private corporations, it is government regulations, lack of enforcement and international laws that give space for the tobacco industry to maneuver. The dynamic between the tobacco industry and governments can be changed, and in fact must be changed under the FCTC.

5. Belén Rios, Fundación Interamericana del Corazón Argentina

 

Background and press information can be found here.

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Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Hearing: Tobacco Addiction and the Right to Health

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

ASH: Megan Arendt / ArendtM@ash.org

O’Neill Institute: Karen Teber / Km463@georgetown.edu

FIC Argentina: Patricia Gutkowski/ prensa@ficargentina.org

WASHINGTON, DC (March 29, 2016) — For the first time, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights takes up tobacco use as a human rights issue during a hearing on Tuesday, April 5, 2016Press Kit

The tobacco epidemic has become one of the world’s — and the Americas’ — gravest public health concerns. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one million people in the Americas die each year from tobacco use, while hundreds of millions more are at risk of tobacco-related diseases. Tobacco companies throughout the region continue to aggressively market cigarettes and interfere in tobacco control measures. The O’Neill Institute, ASH, and FIC Argentina will present to the commission about the harms of tobacco, industry interference, and the impact of tobacco marketing on targeted and vulnerable groups. The three organizations will recommend that the commission consider tobacco control as an important measure in pursuit of the highest attainable standard of health.

WHAT:

Hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: tobacco and the right to health in the Americas

WHO:

Oscar A. Cabrera, The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University, Washington DC

Chris Bostic, ASH > Action on Smoking and Health, Washington, DC

Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, ASH > Action on Smoking and Health, Washington, DC

Verónica Schoj, Fundación Interamericana del Corazón Argentina

Belén Rios, Fundación Interamericana del Corazón Argentina

WHEN:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016; 10:15 – 11:15 am

Interviews can be scheduled with the experts before and after the hearing.

WHERE:

GSB Building of the Organization of American States (OAS)

Padilha Vidal Room

1889 F. Street, NW

Washington, DC 20006

MEDIA:

Media pre-registration is not necessary, but members of the press will be required to register prior to entering the OAS building.

LIVE STREAMING:

This hearing is scheduled to be broadcast live via the IACHR website.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

@ONeillInstitute

@ASHorg

@FICargentina

@IACHRpress

WRITTEN TESTIMONY:

Written testimony from all participants will be posted April 5 at the following links:

O’Neill Institute/Cabrera

ASH/Bostic and Romeo-Stuppy

FIC/Schoj and Rios

 

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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

Fundación Interamericana del Corazón Argentina (INTERAMERICAN HEART FOUNDATION- ARGENTINA)

The Inter-American Heart Foundation is a non-governmental non-profit organization dedicated to reducing heart diseases and stroke, and related non-communicable diseases, in Latin America and the Caribbean region, and to promote health through research, advocacy, public awareness and education. It has members and affiliates in almost all countries in the region.

Follow us on Twitter @ficargentina and on Facebook www.facebook.com/ficargentina 

THE O’NEILL INSTITUTE FOR NATIONAL AND GLOBAL HEALTH LAW

The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University is the premier center for health law, scholarship, and policy. Its mission is to contribute to a more powerful and deeper understanding of the multiple ways in which law can be used to improve the public’s health, using objective evidence as a measure. The O’Neill Institute seeks to advance scholarship, science, research, and teaching that will encourage key decision-makers in the public, private, and civil society to employ the law as a positive tool for enabling more people in the United States and throughout the world to lead healthier lives. Add website and social media contacts.

Follow us on Twitter @ONeillInstitute and on Facebook www.facebook.com/oneillinstitute.

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Why don’t smokers quit?

The evidence is clear: smoking is horrible for your health, and quitting benefits not only your health, but your wallet. These things are fairly obvious, and non-smokers often ask the same question: “Why don’t smokers quit?”

In fact, about 70% of all smokers want to quit. In any given year, nearly half try to quit. Few of them succeed. Quitting is difficult for many reasons, such as advertising, social pressures, and/or failure to use cessation tools effectively. But quitting smoking is hard for one overarching reason: addiction. Nicotine Addiction

While many of the ingredients in cigarettes are harmful, nicotine is the element that is addictive. According to the World Health Organization, “A cigarette is an efficient, well-engineered nicotine delivery device that has proved to be deadly when smoked regularly. Nicotine from a smoked cigarette will reach the brain in as little as 7 seconds after inhalation.” The addictive effect of nicotine is linked to its capacity to trigger the release of dopamine – a chemical in the brain that is associated with feelings of pleasure.

The tobacco industry has been using nicotine addiction to their advantage since the beginning. And we need your help to stop them.

The industry has been aware of the addictiveness of nicotine since at least the 1960’s, but they lied about it for decades because they argue that smoking is a “free choice”, and therefore they are not responsible for the health consequences of smoking. However, tobacco corporations have long realized that addiction is good for their business.

A British American Tobacco memo from 1979 said, “We also think that consideration should be given to the hypothesis that the high profits additionally associated with the tobacco industry are directly related to the fact that the customer is dependent on the product.”

The tobacco industry STILL tries to downplay the addictiveness of nicotine by comparing it to common activities that people enjoy; the tobacco industry has likened nicotine addiction to cravings for chocolate, love, coffee, tea, soda, the internet and shopping.

Nicotine addiction is not like any of these things.

Nicotine addiction is a contagious disease, spread by tobacco corporations, who manipulate their products to make them more addictive. Tobacco companies have created cigarettes that are highly efficient at delivering nicotine into the body, making it easier to become addicted and harder to quit.

Cigarettes are more addictive now than they have ever been.

Research shows that the nicotine yield, or the amount of nicotine that cigarettes deliver, has increased dramatically over the last 15 years. In fact, it has gone up 15%. These actions are entirely purposeful, designed to ensure that tobacco companies’ customers stay addicted.

This is why ASH is committed to fighting the vector of the tobacco epidemic: the tobacco corporations.

We hit back against big tobacco in trade agreements, the UN global development goals, and with the launch of our criminal liability program. ASH also continues to monitor and publicize big tobacco’s marketing tactics that seek to circumvent public health policies.

We drew attention to their inappropriate partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that was used to strong-arm other countries away from implementing tobacco control measures. And we launched our own media campaigns to portray tobacco products as the deadly consumer products that they are.

Although many people choose to experiment with cigarettes, no one chooses addiction. It is unconscionable that tobacco corporations intentionally manipulate addiction in order to increase their profits.

With your help, we will continue to fight back against tobacco corporations and the death, disease, and destruction that they wreak on our society. We won’t allow future generations to suffer through nicotine addiction. Together, we will build a healthier world for you, your family, and your friends.

Please consider becoming a monthly supporter of our fight against Big Tobacco. Your donation will allow ASH to continue this life-saving battle.

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Petition Delivery

ASH joins allies to demand that the U.S. Department of Justice open an investigation on British American Tobacco (BAT)’s alleged corruption in East Africa.

L – R: Abby McGill (International Labor Rights Forum), G. Akili (Corporate Accountability International), Keira Thompson (Public Citizen), Megan Arendt (ASH)

Chris Bostic meeting the DOJ Public Affairs representative.

Chris Bostic meeting the DOJ Public Affairs representative.

45,091 voices strong

45,091 voices strong

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Hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)

On April 5, 2016, Action on Smoking and Health and two of our partner Press Kitorganizations, Fundación InterAmericana del Corazón Argentina and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, will present to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on the Right to Health, Tobacco Industry Interference, and on Tobacco in the Americas.

This is a watershed moment for ASH’s human rights program, and the first time that tobacco will be brought up as a human rights issue before this commission. 

Below we answer some frequently asked questions about tobacco, human rights, and the Commission.

HR video

This video, produced by Youth for Human Rights, explains more about human rights.

What are human rights?

Human rights are rights inherent to all people. Human rights treaties spell out the duties of governments to protect the rights of their citizens. Through their treaty obligations, governments are often required to protect their citizen’s rights to health, life, education, safe and healthy working conditions, and many others.

What is the Inter-American Commission? Is it a court?

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and it meets in regular and special sessions several times a year to examine allegations of human rights violations in the hemisphere, submitted by individual petition, by member states, or by request for a thematic hearing (as in our case). The main goal of the Commission is to protect human rights in the Americas.

The IACHR is not a court. However, along with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, it is one of the institutions that comprise the inter-American system for the promotion and protection of human rights. To draw a loose parallel, if an Inter-American Court case is like a case in front of the Supreme Court of the United States, then the Inter-American Commission hearing would be similar to a Congressional hearing.

The Commission’s human rights duties come from three international documents- the OAS Charter, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and the American Convention on Human Rights.

Why is tobacco a human rights issue?

The founding documents of the Commission ensure the right to life, the protection of children, the right to health, the right to education, and the right to healthy work conditions, all of which are violated by tobacco and/or tobacco corporations and allowed by governments, illustrated by the following facts:

Right to life/ health

• Tobacco use kills nearly six million people worldwide each year

• Latin America has 145 million smokers, between 8-10% of the smokers in the world.

• Tobacco will kill ten million Latin Americans between 2013 and 2025

Protection of children

• Youth tobacco usage in the region is on the rise, with 13.16 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 18 smoking.

Right to Education

• Graphic warning labels are effective in dissuading smokers but only 16 Latin American countries require graphic health warnings covering at least 50 percent of the main display areas of a package.

Right to healthy work conditions

• Seventeen countries in the Americas have adopted 100 percent smoke-free laws but these account for only 46 percent of the region’s population.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

• Five of 35 countries in the Americas still need to join the 180 parties to the FCTC

• Argentina, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, United States

What is tobacco industry interference?

Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the global tobacco treaty, states that “parties shall protect [tobacco control] policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.”

However, the tobacco industry interferes in tobacco control laws and tobacco control education in many ways all around the world, through lawsuits, interference with legislation, deceptive and targeted advertising, and utilizing front groups. We will discuss some of the examples of these tactics during the hearing.

What are you asking the Commission for?

ASH and our partners asked the Commission for a thematic hearing on tobacco and human rights in Latin America for several reasons. The Commission observes the general situation of human rights in Member States and publishes reports – we would like to see tobacco included in those reports. The Commission can also recommend that member states adopt measures that contribute to the protection of human rights. We would like the Commission to encourage all members to fully implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which embodies global best practices for tobacco control.

Finally, the Commission also fosters public awareness of human rights issues. Many people, including human rights professionals, have not considered tobacco as a human rights issue. We intend to show them why they should, and we hope that after the hearing, the Commission will help spread that awareness throughout the region.

Can I attend?  

Join the conversation on social media using #HRcommission

Yes! The hearing is Tuesday, April 5, 2016 from 10:15 AM to 11:15 AM in the Padilha Vidal Room at the Organization of American States. The address is 1889 F Street NW, Washington, D.C. 2006. If you are unable to make it in person, the hearing will also be streaming live here>.

Want to learn more about tobacco and human rights?

Check out our Human Rights Violations and Human Rights Resources webpages, and check back after the hearing to read our presentation materials and watch the video of the hearing.

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Big Tobacco takes hit; City Council bolsters anti-smoking efforts

Big Tobacco took it on the chin Wednesday when Chicago raised its smoking age to 21, outlawed discounts, slapped a $6 million tax on cigars, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco and banned chaw altogether at sports stadiums.

Read more>

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California Lawmakers Vote to Raise Smoking, Vaping Age to 21

California lawmakers voted Thursday to raise the legal age for purchasing and using tobacco and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21, putting the nation’s most populous state on the brink of becoming only the second after Hawaii to bar teenagers from lighting up, dipping or vaping.

Before it can become law, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown must sign the legislation, which has already passed the state Assembly.

Read on>

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WHO warns governments that Big Tobacco is undermining protocol to combat smuggling

The Secretariat for the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recently sent the following Note Verbal to all Missions of Parties in Geneva to alert them to prevent interference from the tobacco industry on the tracking and tracing system.

FCTC Secretariat Note Verbale_industry interference_4-Mar-2016

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