Human Rights Day 2016

December 10th is recognized worldwide as Human Rights Day. It commemorates the anniversary of the day that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The UDHR and other human rights treaties, both international and regional, protect myriad rights around the world, including the rights of women and children, and the right to life and health. human-rights

On human rights day, we believe it is important to draw attention to a human rights issue that is often forgotten: tobacco. Tobacco is the single greatest cause of preventable death in the world.  A human rights approach to ending tobacco is unique because it implores or requires governments to protect their citizens by implementing tobacco control laws and strategies to end the tobacco epidemic. Governments are obligated to protect the health of their citizens, and international and regional treaties and tools like the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) provide best practices and suggestions for how to achieve those goals.

But how does tobacco apply directly to human rights issues and protected groups? Tobacco negatively impacts the right to life, right to health, right to education, children’s rights, women’s rights, and many others. Here are just a few examples-

•   Tobacco farmers – people around the world who grow tobacco (many of them children), face many potential threats including pesticide poisoning and green tobacco sickness from the nicotine, which violate their right to health and life, and other harms that negatively impact human rights, like lack of access to education.

•   Targeted populations – the tobacco industry often targets their advertising to specific populations based on gender, race, sexual identity and age. Some of these groups smoke at much higher rates than the general population, and they are all protected by various international and regional human rights treaties and instruments. Read more about targeted advertising to women and girls and the LGBT communities.

•   The Environment – tobacco has an extremely negative impact on the environment throughout its entire life cycle, from growth through post-consumer waste. Protecting our environment also protects many human rights, such as right to health and life.

Tobacco and Human Rights progress in 2016

This year has been an exciting one for tobacco and human rights.

(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

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) – In April, ASH and two of our partner organizations, Fundación InterAmericana del Corazón Argentina and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, were invited to give a presentation before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. This was the first time the Commission considered tobacco as a human rights issue and was an important step forward. You can read more about the IACHR and our presentation here> and here>.

Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) – Several of our partners, including the two mentioned above, presented a report before CEDAW about tobacco use amongst women and girls in Argentina. The committee called on Argentina to ratify the tobacco treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, to reduce tobacco consumption among adolescents and to address the health consequences of tobacco. In doing so, CEDAW recognized the importance of the FCTC and encouraged Argentina and other countries to utilize it to protect human rights – a huge victory! Congratulations to FIC-Argentina and the O’Neill Institute.

If you are interested in learning more about ASH’s tobacco and human rights program, read more here>

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We must protect our health gains

What will the next four years hold for the anti-tobacco movement in the U.S.? We can’t say for sure, and if the recent track record of pollsters tells us anything, it is that concrete political predictions are a fool’s game. But for those of us concerned about tobacco and public health, there is grave reason to worry.

President-elect Trump is not a smoker, and there is no reason to believe he is personally pro-tobacco use. But there are two indications from his campaign and transition to governance that are worrying.

First, he has repeatedly expressed his disdain for government regulations, and has promised to repeal as many as possible. Regulations in the area of tobacco and health include things like smokefree indoor air laws, a minimum purchase age, and restrictions on marketing to children. Much has been done to educate youth about the dangers of trying that first cigarette. But it is regulations that have drastically reduced tobacco use in the U.S., and saved many millions of lives.

Second, Mr. Trump has invited a number of officials with ties to the tobacco industry to be a part of his administration. No doubt their tobacco ties were not their main qualification, but the ties are worrying nonetheless. You can read about these connections here. The tobacco industry has a long history of influencing governments from within. There are myriad ways even one senior administrator can halt and roll back progress in the struggle against tobacco.

We will urge Mr. Trump and his administration to recognize the unique nature of tobacco and to see the moral as well economic wisdom of continuing the fight to reduce its use and impact on society. With your help, we have made tremendous gains over the last half century. We cannot let your investments in ASH or our joint advancements be overturned.

ASH will work tirelessly to protect and expand our public health gains. We are ready to hit the ground running, and we won’t be done until tobacco consumption is known only in the history books.

ASH is on the front line in the ongoing tobacco war, a war we helped start 50 years ago, and a war we are determined to win. In the past few years, we began to see that victory in the distance, a speck on the horizon to be sure, but reason for hope. But the tobacco industry is far from defeated, and it is clear they are rallying to counter attack.

Millions of lives are at stake. Help us stop big tobacco. Please make an urgent donation today, and support ASH as we rally OUR troops for public health.

All donations, up to $50,000, made before January 1st will be DOUBLED by a group of private donors who recognize the challenging environment we are in and who have stood up to show their support for health.

Will you join them in sending a message to the new administration that tobacco regulations cannot and must not be repealed?


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What if Tobacco Vanished?

Cigarettes have been commercially marketed and sold in the United States for over 100 years. The negative health effects of tobacco have been public knowledge for at least the last 50 years. The death and disease caused by tobacco has long been an epidemic that has plagued the United States and the world. So what would happen if tobacco products simply disappeared tomorrow?

A healthier environment environ

If tobacco vanished tomorrow, there would be many positive impacts on the environment.  There would be a 5% reduction in global deforestation, because almost 500,000 acres a year are destroyed due to tobacco farming. There would be fewer pesticides and chemicals causing soil and water pollution, and fewer forest fires. Perhaps most impressively, if tobacco vanished, so would the 845,000 tons of new toxic trash produced by cigarette butts each year.

Fewer financial costs to society

In the United States, more than $156 billion a year of productivity is lost due to deaths from tobacco and diseases caused by second hand smoke. Another $170 billion goes to direct medical costs for smokers. If tobacco vanished, so would those costs to society.

But most importantly, more lives saved fb-1

Researchers estimate that the 1964 Surgeon General’s report and the tobacco control efforts that followed it have saved approximately 8 million lives in the U.S. While this figure is staggering, what would happen if the world became completely tobacco free? Worldwide, tobacco causes nearly 6 million deaths per year now, and is anticipated to cause more than 8 million deaths a year by 2030 if current trends continue. In the next 20 years, we could lose 132 million lives worldwide to tobacco related deaths. If tobacco use vanished tomorrow all those lives could be saved.

At ASH, we are working towards a world free from tobacco and a world where all of the above is possible. Watch our video and help us make tobacco vanish by making a donation today!


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New HUD Rule on Smokefree Public Housing


Read their announcement here>

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ASH Releases Video to Showcase a New Ending to the Tobacco Story


Contact: Megan Arendt

Office: 202-659-4310


ASH Releases Video to Showcase a New Ending to the Tobacco Story

The World We Need

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 17, 2016 – One person dies every six seconds from a tobacco-related disease. We have the power to change that, to save those friends and family members from vanishing out of our lives. Instead of losing people, we should make tobacco products vanish.

Watch the latest video from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) which depicts our current reality of losing friends and family members to tobacco-related diseases. The video then changes to show an alternative; a future we can build where tobacco products vanish instead of loved ones. ash-vanish-poster-2

Tobacco products are the only consumer products that kill when used exactly as their manufacturers intend. They don’t require overuse or misuse, which makes their availability and existence a public health epidemic.

Building a truly tobacco-free world is completely possibly with progressive policy changes. Across the U.S., cities and states have begun increasing the age to purchase tobacco products to 21, including ASH’s hometown of Washington, DC. This is a major step toward protecting vulnerable populations and our youth from becoming addicted to nicotine, a substance more addictive than alcohol, heroin, or cocaine.

Raising the age to purchase tobacco products is an important step. However, there is much more to be done. We need to increase tobacco taxes, implement better warning labels, increase public education around tobacco, and hold the tobacco industry accountable.

“For 50 years, ASH has sought to end the worldwide damage, disease, and death caused by tobacco products. We’ve fought to remove cigarette commercials on TV and radio, for smoke-free air ordinances, for a strong international tobacco control treaty, and for global targets to reduce tobacco use as a part of global development initiatives. But the best way to reduce and end tobacco’s damage on our society would be for tobacco products themselves to vanish,” said Laurent Huber, Executive Director of ASH.

ASH’s video illustrates that tobacco is still a major public health threat. We have won some battles but not the war. With dedication to proven best practices, we can achieve a healthy and tobacco free world.

View the video here>


A special thank you to David’s Natural Market in MD for the filming space, along with Carlton Colby Designs, Raquel Zuniga, Tyler Bruce, Margaret Ristaino, Nicolas Mackall, Brooks Eure, Marcus Burnette, and Peter Broomfield.



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

Follow us on Twitter @ASHOrg and Facebook

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Every. Six. Seconds. A new tragedy hits as a new person dies from a tobacco-related disease. Each person leaves a hole in our families, communities, and society when they vanish.

This is unacceptable. This is preventable. And we must end it. With your help, we will.

Watch the nightmare unfold, as tobacco robs society of loved one after loved one. Then, watch the video change and portray the alternate world we seek to create at ASH, a world free from the damage, disease, and death caused by tobacco products.

If you like what you see at the end of the video – a world where tobacco products vanish – help us build that reality and end the tobacco epidemic. Stand with ASH by making a donation toward this challenging but life-saving work today.

Read our Press Release here>

Download graphics here>


Source of global statistic used: World Health Organization

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RJ Reynolds Can’t Make Up Its Mind

In California, RJ Reynolds is spending millions to prevent a new tax on cigarettes. But in Missouri, RJ Reynolds is spending millions to promote a new tax on cigarettes. Tobacco taxes are proven to prevent kids from smoking and to increase the number of adults who quit. Big Tobacco has spent lots of money over the years trying to defeat new taxes, so why are they flip-flopping in Missouri? rj-reynolds


In Missouri, RJ Reynolds is supporting a tax increase on tobacco. Missouri currently has the lowest state tax in the country on cigarettes; just $.17. RJ Reynolds is spending almost $3 million to support the Missouri increase- which would result in an increase of just $.15 a year for four years. Even after the four year increase occurs, the tax would be $.77, putting Missouri in 39th place for US tobacco state taxes. This increase is so small that unfortunately it won’t do much to curb smoking- which is exactly why Reynolds American is supporting it and jumping at the chance to appear in favor of public health measures.

There is another reason why RJ Reynolds is supporting the proposal. In Missouri, off-brand cigarette companies, which offer cheaper products than RJ Reynolds, have about 25% of the market share. The proposition calls for a $.67 “equity fee” for those companies, on top of the state-wide $.60 increase. This proposal costs RJ Reynolds’ competition more than double what it will cost them and may run some of their competitors out of business, while RJ Reynolds isn’t likely to lose many customers.  Even more importantly, Big Tobacco likely thinks that a small tax increase now forestalls a bigger one later. This small gesture now could prevent a large, effective increase later. But what’s happening elsewhere in the country?


Big Tobacco has spent over $55 million to defeat Proposition 56, an initiative that would raise the state cigarette tax by $2 a pack. California’s current tax is $.87, but this increase would make the statewide tax $2.87, moving California’s tax into the top 10 highest state cigarette taxes, but still far from worldwide highs of cigarette pack prices, such as in Australia ($16 a pack), Norway ($12.59), and Singapore ($9.32).

Big Tobacco justifies the difference in strategies between states by implying that this proposition will take money away from schools and give it to insurance companies. While this isn’t true, unfortunately support for the tax increase has dropped since RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris started issuing ads to support their message. Public health advocates are fighting hard to counter these misconceptions, but they are being dramatically outspent by Big Tobacco.

Around the country

Tobacco tax increases are also on the table in Colorado (an increase of $1.75 a pack) and North Dakota (an increase of $1.76 a pack). Big Tobacco is pumping money into those states to defeat those measures as well; only the business opportunity in Missouri has won their suspicious stamp of approval

Not surprisingly, Big Tobacco has not truly changed their tune when it comes to tobacco taxes. Despite the fact that these taxes are proven to prevent smoking initiation, increase cessation, and therefore save lives, Big Tobacco is only interested in supporting taxes when there is profit waiting for them. Hopefully, despite the extraordinary measures taken by Big Tobacco, effective tax increases will pass this November and therefore protect Americans from deadly tobacco products.

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U.S. Campaign Contributions 2016

The tobacco epidemic is a huge public health problem. Almost 600,000 Americans die every year from tobacco related diseases. This death and disease is perpetrated by the tobacco industry, in exchange for profits. Unfortunately, the tobacco industry uses its profits to buy access to government officials and to buy influence over laws. 

In the 2016 election cycle, the tobacco industry has contributed over $2.5 million to incumbent representatives for their re-election campaigns.  The majority of this money comes from three major tobacco companies; Altria Group ($1.7 million), Reynolds American ($456,000) and Lorillard Tobacco ($356,000).

This is a problem in almost every state: 49 states have candidates who have accepted campaign funds from the tobacco industry. Only Vermont and Washington D.C. have complete delegations that haven’t accepted any money from Big Tobacco.

This is a problem for both parties. Candidates on both sides of the aisle accept campaign funds from the tobacco industry.

This is a problem in the House, the Senate, and the White House. The top ten candidates that accepted the most money in the U.S. House Representatives received a combined total of over $312,000. The top ten in the Senate accepted just under $800,000. Presidential candidates accepted just under $90,000.

top-20-campaign-contributions-2016Unfortunately, campaign contributions are a problem that seems to be getting worse. In the 2014 election cycle, Big Tobacco contributed $2.3 million to candidates. In 2012, the last presidential election year, the contributions were $2.1 million. While this is far from the peak of campaign contributions in the mid-1990s, it is troubling that the contributions are once again rising. Industries that threaten public health should not control public health policy by holding sway over our elected officials.

Check the ASH Tobacco Campaign Contribution Map to see how much your representative has received from tobacco corporations in the 2016 election cycle.



Not sure who your representative is? Find out here>

If your representatives HAVE taken tobacco money, you can write, call, or tweet them to explain why it’s important that they stop!



**This information is accurate as of October 15, 2016. Our data comes from the fantastic work done by the Center for Responsive Politics and is checked against the Federal Election Commission.**

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ASH Environmental Webinar Recap

When we think of tobacco, a lot of health issues immediately spring to mind – lung cancer, throat cancer, cardiovascular disease, tooth decay, asthma. But tobacco products also wreak havoc on our environment, a problem that is often overlooked. enviro-blog

Tobacco is harmful to the environment throughout the product cycle – all the way from acquiring the materials to post-consumer waste. Tobacco farming, manufacture, industry waste, transport, use, and post-consumer waste all have a negative impact on the environment; all for a product that is deadly and has no benefit to society.

Some of the many harms in the life cycle of tobacco include:

• 5% of global deforestation is due to tobacco farming- 900,000 acres a year

• Tobacco growing is dependent on chemical inputs like fertilizer and pesticide, which causes soil degradation and water pollution, and can have negative health impacts on laborers.

• Over a million pounds of toxic chemicals were released by tobacco product manufacturing facilities in a single year. The top five chemicals released were ammonia, nicotine, hydrochloric acid, methanol, and nitrate compounds.

• Smokers litter cigarette butts rather than disposing of them properly 65% of the time, which results in approximately 845,000 tons (1.69 BILLION pounds) of cigarette butts as toxic trash each year.

There are numerous policy options that can be considered to combat the negative impact of tobacco on the environment.

Implement best practice policies from the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

The global tobacco treaty includes an Article (number 18) which addresses tobacco and the environment. Parties are bound to have “due regard” for the environment in their tobacco control policies. This Article has largely been ignored by the Parties, but should be brought to the forefront of the tobacco control discussion going forward.

Extended Producer Responsibility

These programs would require tobacco corporations to monitor their environmental impact, reduce waste, recycle and cleanup any waste. They could also require tobacco corporations to reimburse local communities for cleanup costs associated with post-consumer waste.

Product regulation

Countries, states or localities can pass laws that can help. For example, jurisdictions have considered legislation that bans filters, as well as taxes on cigarette butts.

Finally, a key step is public education. Many people – smokers, tobacco control advocates and the general public alike – don’t consider the environmental impact of tobacco. But with public education, many of these people could become passionate allies. Together, we can shine a light on this issue and protect our world from the toxic and hazardous impacts of tobacco.

See the webinar here>

Are you interested in this program? Read more about our next steps, and please consider donating at CrowdRise>

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Action Review 3rd Quarter 2016



Uruguay’s Victory Over Philip Morris Will Change the World


After more than six years of litigation, the International Centre for Investment Disputes found against Philip Morris International (PMI) in its suit against the government of Uruguay over rules on tobacco packaging. Uruguay, a developing country whose GDP is dwarfed by PMI revenues, refused to back down, insisting that the health of its citizens takes precedence over corporate profits. Read on>

ASH Blog

• 10th Anniversary Landmark RICO Ruling

• No Safe Use of Tobacco

• Thinking about Nutrition? Don’t forget tobacco

• The Tobacco Industry Finds Common Ground with 19th Century Slave Owners

ASH News

• ASH Campaign Case Study to assist individuals working to raise the purchase age for tobacco products to 21.hearing

• Does Tobacco Violate Human Rights? ASH testified before a regional commission arguing it does.

• ASH Press Release following Uruguay’s legal victory against Philip Morris International.

• A Development Challenge the World Can Overcome.

The Tobacco Epidemic is Still Raging


While we have seen many successes in public health policy, the tobacco epidemic is still raging, killing around 6 million people each year. The tobacco epidemic is different from other epidemics because it is driven by corporations looking to make a profit from a product that causes death and disease.

If Big Tobacco were a country, it would have a gross domestic product (GDP) of countries like Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, and Venezuela (Read more here).

But together, we can combat their sale of disease and death. We can stop Big Tobacco. Be a part of the solution by making a donation today and reviewing other giving options here.

Donate now

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Tobacco 21: Campaign Case Study

Read the Case Study

This case study is intended as a teaching device for municipalities that are just getting started or have already begun working to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21.


Local Law No. “C” for 2016

A local law of the county of Albany, NY prohibiting the sale of cigarettes, tobacco products, liquid nicotine, or electronic cigarettes to minors and young adults.

Date Passed: May 9,2016                                      

Signed into Law: June 8, 2016


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Is Vaping Bad For You? Is It Safe? Experts Weigh In

Laurent Huber, Executive Director of ASH:

Combustible tobacco products like cigarettes are extremely toxic, killing approximately 6 million people per year.  Given that cigarettes are so ridiculously toxic, vaping has the potential of being less harmful. For a smoker who cannot overcome nicotine addiction, even using approved pharmaceutical and other therapies, vaping is likely to be a better alternative than continuing to smoke cigarettes.

However, the scientific community is only beginning to look into the long term impact of vaping on health and, because there are so many vaping products on the market it is difficult to make a blanket statement about the safety of all vaping devices. Some researchers in the public health arena are concerned about claims that vaping is 95% safer than smoking cigarettes, noting that those claims are educated guesses at best. And while vaping may be safer than using combustibles, this does not imply they are a hundred percent safe.

Read more>

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10th Anniversary of Landmark Ruling

On August 17, 2006, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler issued an historic ruling. Nearly 7 years after the case was first filed, Judge Kessler issued an opinion that found that the tobacco industry had fraudulently and illegally covered up the health hazards of smoking for decades, in violation of the federal anti-racketeering law (RICO). This year marks the 10th anniversary of this lengthy (the full decision is 1,683 pages long) and momentous decision. In honor of the occasion, we have highlighted a few of the most important findings. 


The Tobacco Industry Targets Youth

“The evidence is clear and convincing – and beyond any reasonable doubt – that Defendants have marketed to young people twenty-one and under while consistently, publicly, and falsely, denying they do so.” Paragraph 3296.

The Tobacco Industry Manipulated Nicotine to increase addictiveness

“Every aspect of a cigarette is precisely tailored to ensure that a cigarette smoker can pick up virtually any cigarette on the market and obtain an addictive dose of nicotine.” Paragraph 1368.

The Tobacco Industry Lied to the Public

“Cigarette smoking causes disease, suffering, and death. Despite internal recognition of this fact, Defendants have publicly denied, distorted, and minimized the hazards of smoking for decades.” Paragraph 509.

Ten Years Later:

Despite these and many other important findings, the tobacco industry is still committing many of these actions today. One of the reasons is that the court had limited legal options to force the industry to stop, due to the language of the RICO statute that the case was brought under. In fact, Judge Kessler emphasized that she was disappointed at the lack of remedies available to her.

Furthermore, despite the weight of this decision, some of the Court’s orders still have not been implemented, 10 years later. The tobacco industry initiated several appeals of the decision. The U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. upheld Judge Kessler’s decision, and the United States Supreme court declined to hear the case.

As part of the decision, Judge Kessler ordered that tobacco companies issue “corrective statements” about the health hazards of smoking and second-hand smoke, and their deception. The tobacco companies have appealed again and again, including as recently as this year. As Judge Kessler recently stated, this is “… a waste of precious time, energy, and money for all concerned — and a loss of information for the public.”

This Department of Justice (DOJ) RICO case was a landmark decision for the public health community and society at large. The opinion brought to light the lies that the tobacco industry had been telling for decades, and the remedies attempted to help educate the public about the true harms of smoking and second-hand smoke. However, the tobacco industry, despite being publicly indicted as racketeers, is still up to its old tricks. The DOJ case has had a huge impact; but without tobacco industry interference, it could have saved many more lives these past 10 years.

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Who really won the legal battle between Philip Morris and Uruguay?

The David-Goliath battle between Uruguay and Philip Morris is an iconic case because it so clearly illustrates the way corporations can use international investment treaties to attack regulations made in the public interest.

So does Big Tobacco’s defeat by Uruguay mean that the growing public opposition to these investment treaties is mistaken? The corporate arbitration lawyers that take up many of the cases – and their supportive political allies – are keen to say that it proves the system can work fairly.

The question however is for whom is the system working?

Read on>

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WHO Resources on NCDs

The World Health Organization (WHO) is seeking to better assist progress toward the non-communicable disease (NCD) reduction targets endorsed by governments in order to reduce premature death from the four major NCDs by 25% by 2025. Tobacco is the leading risk factor for NCDs and the tobacco reduction target commits governments to a 30% relative reduction in prevalence of current tobacco use in persons aged 15+ years.

Resources for governments and organizations can be found here>

Resources for the general population can be found here>

The WHO also completed a country profile on the U.S., noting that the U.S. has national response systems in place to address NCD risk factors. However, there is still much work to be done to ensure that the U.S. is fully aligned with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (see ASH’s Report). Because there is also a tobacco use reduction target included in SDGs Goal 3 (i.e. Strengthen the implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in all countries, as appropriate), the U.S. must be mindful to seek compliance with the WHO FCTC when facilitating a tobacco use reduction plan.

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No Safe Use of Tobacco

Tasmania, an Australian island off the Southern coast, is considering an historic step for tobacco control. The Legislative Council is currently considering a proposal called Tobacco Free Generation (TFG), which would increase the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products every year, eventually phasing out the sale of tobacco products for any person born after the year 2000. It would affect only the sale of tobacco – there would be no penalties for smokers or for smoking. Tasmania tall

As Mr. Neil Francey of Northeastern University said, TFG would “eliminate from the marketplace a product that would never have been permitted in any civilized country had the authorities understood its addictive and lethal nature.” Read the proposal here>.

Of course, the tobacco industry has come out in force against this proposal. The Australian Retailers Association made a submission opposing Tobacco Free Generation that argued that “In principle, the retail sector fully supports a properly regulated system ensuring safe use of this product, allowing the legal sale by retailers to undertake harm reduction through education and restriction of sales to minors.”

There is an irreconcilable flaw in their argument; no amount of tobacco use is safe. No amount of regulation can ensure the safe use of tobacco, because tobacco is an inherently unsafe product. The Tobacco Free Generation proposal seeks to remedy that by phasing out all tobacco use.

Another group, the Alliance of Australian retailers, a tobacco industry front organization, also made a submission in opposition of the amendment. The group argues that TFG will “do nothing for public health” and parrots industry arguments that the law will negatively and unfairly impact small, local tobacco retailers.

While TFG has not yet been implemented anywhere in the world, there are evidence-based measures to show that increasing the minimum legal age does have an impact on public health. Needham, MA was the first U.S. locality to raise the minimum legal purchase age to 21. In the 4 years that followed, there was “a 47% reduction in the Needham high-school smoking rate.” Also of note, no tobacco retailers went out of business in Needham in the 4 years after the implementation of the law. Read more here>. Needham’s neighbor, Brookline, is considering the TFG concept.

Back in Tasmania, there were also submissions about the amendment by a number of public health groups, including ASH, legal experts, and ethicists, many of whom point out that there are no legal or ethical barriers to implementing Tobacco Free Generation, and they call on Tasmania to do so. Read more here>.

The Tasmania Legislative Committee has returned the Tobacco Free Generation bill to the Legislative Council with no serious objections, so it is now in the Council’s hands. Tasmania may be the first in the world to take this monumental step towards ending the tobacco epidemic.

Check back soon – ASH will continue to post updates on the status of Tasmania’s TFG amendment.

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Joint Letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations

Appropriations_Letter_CDC-OSH_Page_1 Appropriations_Letter_CDC-OSH_Page_2 Appropriations_Letter_CDC-OSH_Page_3

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Uruguay Wins Its Tobacco Case Against Philip Morris International


Contact: Megan Arendt

Office: 202-659-4310



Uruguay Wins Its Tobacco Case Against Philip Morris International

But PMI Accomplished Its Primary Goal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 8, 2016 – After more than six years, this morning an arbitration panel ruled against Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM) in its case against the government of Uruguay over tobacco packaging laws. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) salutes President Tabaré Vázquez for prioritizing the health of his people and standing up to the bullying tactics of the tobacco industry.

This is a moment to celebrate, but also a moment for sober reflection. PMI will no doubt shed some public crocodile tears, but their main goal in launching the suit has been realized – six years and millions of dollars have been spent defending a nondiscriminatory law that was intended purely to protect public health. This has already resulted in “regulatory chill” in other countries, preventing tobacco legislation that would have saved lives.

PMI launched the case in 2010 in response to Uruguay’s move to require large graphic health warnings and limit the number of individual brand variants under a clause in the Uruguay-Switzerland bilateral investment treaty (BIT) that allows corporations to directly sue governments. The arbitration took place under the auspices of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) rather than a court in Uruguay or Switzerland. The clause allowing this, called investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), is now common in trade agreements. This is not the first time the tobacco industry has used ISDS to intimidate governments, and it will not be the last.

The global community needs to look in the mirror and ask itself – why do we give tobacco multinationals special rules and special courts to sue governments?

The argument in favor of ISDS is already thin. In theory, it bolsters the confidence of investors that they will have meaningful legal recourse if their investments are expropriated or damaged, thus increasing foreign direct investment (FDI), especially in developing countries. In practice, the correlation between ISDS and FDI flows is mixed at best. And for tobacco, ISDS makes no sense at all.

The purpose of free trade is to increase material wealth – to lower prices, which boosts consumption, which boosts production, which boosts jobs. All of these goals are laudable, but all of these goals are antithetical to what the world is trying to accomplish with tobacco. Countries all around the world adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which call on reductions in tobacco use. It is time to exempt tobacco from the benefits of global trade rules.



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


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Age to buy tobacco in Chicago increasing to 21 this week

CHICAGO (AP) — The minimum age in Chicago for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products goes up to 21 at the end of the week.

The city on Friday joins about 170 local jurisdictions around the country that have made the change, including New York City and Boston. Health advocates have pushed the policy to discourage teenagers from starting a harmful habit.

Hawaii and California have raised the tobacco purchase age to 21 statewide. Illinois lawmakers are considering a similar measure.

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Imperial Tobacco’s Global Director of Corporate Affairs on Plain Packaging

Listen to the radio segment here>

Watch a different news segment with the same Imperial Tobacco employee here>

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Bill to raise legal smoking age to 21 in Guam passes

Guam lawmakers Friday passed legislation aimed at curbing the island’s rate of tobacco users by increasing the minimum age to purchase tobacco-related products, and electronic cigarettes, to 21.

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Action Review: 2nd Quarter 2016

ARJust Released: ASH Annual Report 2015

“In the nearly 50 years since ASH started taking action, 2015 stands out as one of our most successful. I truly believe that we have turned a corner, and that victory, for the first time, may be in sight.”

Laurent Huber

ASH Executive Director

Read the report here>

ASH Blog

A Dangerously Good Year For TobaccoTobacco Profits

Why Don’t Smokers Quit?

Earth Day 2016

Tobacco Control News

Tobacco Firms Lose UK Court Challenge Over Plain Tobacco Packaging

Dutch Lawyer Starts Criminal Case Against Tobacco Firms

New Sweeping Federal Rules Bar E-Cigarette Sales to Teens Younger Than 18

Justices Turn Down Philip Morris Appeal of $25Million Judgement

We agree with Dr. Margaret Chan’s (WHO Director-General) recent statement that it’s time to put Big Tobacco “out of business.” It’s time to value health over profits. And it’s time to build a better world for future generations.

Stand with ASH by making a donation today! And remember, we have a matching campaign running the month of June. So all donations made this month (up to $2,000) will be MATCHED.

Donate Now



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A growing gulf in the terrain of tobacco control

The theme for World No Tobacco Day on May 31, an annual initiative of WHO and the Secretariat of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), is plain packaging of tobacco products. Plain packaging prohibits the use of logos, colours, and promotional labelling on cigarettes and hand-rolled tobacco and gives graphic health warnings more prominence. In the FCTC, the legally binding international treaty to curb tobacco use signed by 180 nations, a ban on branded cigarette packaging is considered a key demand reduction strategy.

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Can Poor Countries Combat Big Tobacco Too?

This year for World No Tobacco Day on May 31 the World Health Organization has recommended that countries adopt plain packaging as a way to reduce tobacco use, however so far mostly only rich countries have been able to afford to implement the changes.

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World No Tobacco Day: Taking Steps to Save Lives

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