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Action Review: 1st Quarter Edition 2014

ASH Marks the 50th Anniversary of the Surgeon General’s Report

January 11, 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health.  The original report revealed to the world the scientific fact that smoking causes disease and death, and was so groundbreaking that its release was held on a Saturday to minimize the impact on the stock market. A new public health initiative was born, both in the U.S. and abroad, culminating in the world’s first health treaty, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Although the 1964 report examined the impact of tobacco on Americans, the rest of the world was also listening. The U.S. public health service was and is highly respected globally, and much of the scientific data analyzed by the expert committee came from foreign scientists, particularly in the United Kingdom. The new Surgeon General’s report, released this past January, also included data from around the world.

Those familiar with the tobacco control movement are no strangers to the fact that tobacco remains the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S. and the world, causing one in five deaths here at home and killing over 6 million people per year worldwide. The epidemic has shifted dramatically in the 50 years since the 1964 report. At the time, it was a disease of the wealthy. Today, it is a particular burden for the global poor.

The good news is there is a solution:  The WHO FCTC is the blueprint for effective tobacco control guidelines that will save lives!

This year ASH will release its report A Half Century of Avoidable Death: A Global Perspective on Tobacco in America.  This report examines current laws in the U.S. and highlights domestic successes, failures and comparisons to the best practices around the globe. The tobacco control community has recognized that we must combat the epidemic by examining the problem through a global lens and that one of the greatest tools at our disposal is the WHO FCTC.  Please stay tuned for our report release this spring.

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Program Updates

TRADE

For the last three years, ASH has been leading the charge to remove tobacco products from free trade agreements. These agreements give corporations broad new rights and protections, lower the cost of products, and diminish the regulatory authority of governments. This is all bad news when it comes to tobacco, but worst of all is the further spread of the right of tobacco companies to directly sue governments over tobacco regulations.

As you may recall, ASH saw a major return on its efforts last August, when Malaysia proposed a full exemption for tobacco from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, the first such proposal in the history of trade negotiations. This would mean that all of the rights and privileges afforded to other products would not apply to tobacco, including the right to sue.

Since August, ASH and its allies have worked tirelessly to create a public health consensus in support of exempting tobacco from the TPP and other trade agreements here in the U.S. The list of organizations that now publicly support exemptions – or “carve-outs” – is impressive, and includes the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the National Association of State Legislators, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the National Association of County and City Health Officers, and many others.

On January 27, 2014, we had perhaps our biggest domestic success. The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), the most powerful group of lawyers in the country, whose job it is to defend state legislation against lawsuits, wrote a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman “to request that the United States Trade Representative act to preserve the ability of state and local governments to regulate tobacco products to protect the public health.” Incredibly, this letter was signed by attorneys general from 43 states. According to contacts at NAAG, no issue has garnered such bipartisan support from NAAG in at least a generation.

The fight is not over, but the tide is turning. As TPP negotiations enter the final stages and negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) begin, ASH has ensured that tobacco exemptions are part of the discussion. It is time tobacco was treated as the unique product that it is – the only consumer product that kills when used exactly as intended.

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT

  • OWG on SDGs

The eight Open Working Group (OWG) sessions on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have concluded and the stocktaking phase of the post-2015 agenda is now complete. ASH has been working with the informal health in post-2015 advocacy group to produce a collaborative position paper on health and population dynamics in the post-2015 development framework. The paper includes the priorities for health and proposes how health should be integrated in the SDG framework. This paper will be used for advocacy during the decision-making phase this spring and summer. Click here to read the position paper. An annex with specific recommendations, including proposed targets and indicators, is available here.

  •  ASH at the United Nations

On March 10, 2014, ASH Campaign Coordinator Shana Narula spoke on a panel at the UN for a side event at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 58: The MDGs, Post-2015 and Beijing+20 – regional perspective series (North America and Europe) Programme. She highlighted the significant impact of tobacco and NCDs on women’s health and the importance of integrating tobacco control and NCDs in the post-2015 development agenda, specifically the SDGs. Click here to watch her statement at the 40 minute mark.

  • UN NCD Review and Assessment

The UN General Assembly will host in New York a comprehensive review and assessment on the prevention and control of NCDs to follow up on the 2011 high-level meeting. The review is required as a result of the UN Political Declaration. This meeting is expected to take place in July 2014. In January, the Secretary General released a report outlining the progress made on NCDs since the high level meeting. Click here to read the SG’s progress report.

EYE ON THE INDUSTRY

In 2012, ASH launched the Tobacco Contribution Map highlighting the industry’s involvement in congressional campaigns.  This year we will continue to track contributions by updating the map and in May, during the annual World No Tobacco Day event, will recognize and publicly thank representatives who have not accepted campaign money from the tobacco industry in the last ten years.  We will also take this opportunity to publicly encourage those representatives who do accept tobacco funding to discontinue this practice and stand on the side of public health.  Please stays tuned for more information on our media campaign and the updated map, and urge your representative to refuse tobacco funding.

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Tobacco Control News

 

CVS Demonstrates True Social Responsibility

CVS, the nation’s second largest drug store chain, announced on February 5 that it will stop selling tobacco products at all of its 7000+ stores by October 1st. This is the largest chain of drug stores in the world to refuse to sell tobacco. CVS joins another big retail chain – Target – which made a similar decision in the early 1990s. ASH has congratulated CVS and plans to meet with some of their executives to discuss how they may further combat the tobacco epidemic.

This is welcome news for a number of obvious reasons, and perhaps some less obvious ones. First, the move shows that CVS has clearly placed health and wellness as its highest priority. Second, the move puts greater pressure on other retailers, such as Walgreens and Walmart, to follow suit. Third, it makes it easier for former smokers and those trying to quit to shop without facing the temptation of tobacco displays at the checkout. And fourth, children won’t be exposed to tobacco ads every time they shop with their parents at CVS.

Going deeper into the decision, there is more good news. CVS is a publicly-traded corporation, with shareholders who demand profits. We are not privy to CVS’ analysis, but must assume that they feel this decision will enhance profits in the long term. This not only means other retailers are likely to follow suit, but that tobacco’s profitability in general is on the cusp of a downturn.

This is also good news from a price standpoint. Economics 101 teaches us that when you reduce the supply of a product, the price goes up. Because increasing the price of tobacco – usually through taxes – is one of the best ways to encourage people to quit and to stop children from starting, this alone should have an effect. There may also be small markets where this decrease in supply will have an even greater impact, such as in small towns in rural areas where CVS is the only drug store.

Congratulations to CVS. Now, who will be next?

U.S. Surgeon General Calls for End of Tobacco Epidemic

Fifty years after the first U.S. surgeon general’s report declared smoking a hazard to human health, the tally of smoking-related effects keeps rising, with liver and colorectal cancers, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and even erectile dysfunction joining the list, according to a report released Friday, January 10, 2014.  The report, the first in more than a decade, found that smoking has killed more than 20 million Americans prematurely in the last half century, and warns that, if current trends continue, another 5.6 million children are at risk of dying. “Enough is enough,” acting Surgeon General Dr Boris Lushniak said in a telephone interview. “We need to eliminate the use of cigarettes and create a tobacco-free generation.”  Click here to read the full Surgeon General Report>

FDA Issues First Orders to Stop Sale, Distribution of Tobacco  Products

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued orders in February to stop the further sale and distribution of four tobacco products currently on the market. The action marks the first time the FDA has used its authority under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to order a manufacturer of currently available tobacco products to stop selling and distributing them.  Click here to read the FDA full release>

European Parliament Passes Sweeping Anti-Tobacco Law

The European Parliament stood on the side of public health in the tobacco vote in February.  The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) endorsement strengthens the current European regulation on tobacco in several ways. Among other measures, it increases the size of the pictorial and text health warnings to cover 65% of tobacco packages and bans flavored cigarettes and features on packaging that play down the health risks of smoking. There is evidence to show that these measures encourage smokers to quit and discourage non-smokers from starting.  Click here to read more about the decision>

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 Legal Updates

We have recently started a new blog series on Legal Updates in Tobacco control. In this blog, our Staff Attorney, Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, presents and analyzes legal issues in all aspects of tobacco control, both domestically and internationally. Previous posts have included the legal classification of e-cigarettes as tobacco products, the legality of tobacco marketing, and an analysis of 2013 tobacco control victories. If you would like to learn more about a particular law, case or tobacco regulation or participate in the discussion, please leave a comment on the blog! Check out the Legal Updates Blog here>

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ASH has been very busy this first quarter of 2014 fighting for your health and the health of your loved ones…..for generations to come.

In its most basic role, ASH works tirelessly to ensure that tobacco control is, at the very least, a part of the discussion and that the voice of our movement is heard.  But that is just the first step in achieving ASH’s mission of inspiring and facilitating tangible change.  Our efforts in education, advocacy, and policy negotiation result in tobacco control measures being included in laws at the state and country level, international trade agreements, and global health and economic development goals.

Please help us strengthen our fight by making a donation today.  And, you can rest assured knowing your generous contributions will go even further as ASH strives to minimize expenses and maximize impact.  In fact, our next e-newsletter (and all subsequent newsletters) will be changed to a digest format so we can continue to bring you all the latest news about ASH through a simplified process that will allow staff to devote more time to our crucial programs.

The world is counting on us to stop the disease and death caused by tobacco.  And we are counting on you.

 

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Nigerian Court Upholds Seizure of Cigarettes without Warning Labels

A Federal High Court in Nigeria recently upheld the power of Nigeria’s Consumer Protection Council (CPC) to impound products considered to be harmful or that constitute a health hazard to the unsuspecting Nigerian public – in this case, cigarettes.

Required Warning Labels in Nigeria

In February 2013, CPC made an inspection visit to the Nigerian warehouse of the distributor of Superkings cigarettes for Imperial Tobacco, based in the United Kingdom. The CPC seized over 3,000 cartons of Superkings cigarettes because the products were not in compliance with Nigeria’s laws. Read the law here>

Nigeria’s Industrial Standard requires that the text health warnings on cigarettes occupy 30% of the lower part of each panel of the packets of cigarettes. Read more about tobacco control in Nigeria here> and here>.

The cigarette company argued that this action amounted to an illegal seizure. Justice Evoh Stephen Chukwu held that the right to property was not absolute, affirming that the Superkings cigarettes were not in conformity with the laws and regulations of Nigeria. On those grounds, the case was dismissed.

According to several studies on tobacco warning labels, “adult and youth smokers report that large, comprehensive warning labels reduce smoking consumption, increase motivation to quit and increase the likelihood that they will remain abstinent following a quit attempt.” Read more here>

4.7 million Nigerian adults (ages 15 or older) use tobacco products. Read more about Nigeria’s statistics here> In part due to the decision of the Nigerian Federal High Court, those smokers will now be exposed to health warnings each time they smoke a cigarette.

Congratulations to the Nigerian Federal High Court on enforcing this important issue. ASH encourages Nigeria to take the next step and implement graphic health warnings and/or plain packaging.

Please leave a comment below or continue the conversation with ASH on Facebook or Twitter.

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Dem Senators Urge Navy Secretary to Ban Tobacco Sales on Bases & Ships

“While annual profits from all Department of Defense (DOD) authorized military tobacco sales are roughly $90 million, a DOD report from June 2009 estimated that the annual tobacco-related military health costs and lost productivity are about $1.9 billion, or 21 times greater than the annual sales,” the senators wrote.

The senators cited a 2008 Defense Department study that found smoking rates in all branches of the military was 30.6 percent, compared to 20.6 percent of the general population.

Click here to read the full article>

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Smoking Proves Hard to Shake Among the Poor

MANCHESTER, Ky. — When smoking first swept the United States in the early decades of the 20th century, it took hold among the well-to-do. Cigarettes were high-society symbols of elegance and class, puffed by doctors and movie stars. By the 1960s, smoking had exploded, helped by the distribution of cigarettes to soldiers in World War II. Half of all men and a third of women smoked.

But as evidence of smoking’s deadly consequences has accumulated, the broad patterns of use by class have shifted: Smoking, the leading cause of preventable death in the country, is now increasingly a habit of the poor and the working class.

Read the full New York Times article here>

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Selling a Poison by the Barrel: Liquid Nicotine for E-Cigarettes

A dangerous new form of a powerful stimulant is hitting markets nationwide, for sale by the vial, the gallon and even the barrel.

The drug is nicotine, in its potent, liquid form — extracted from tobacco and tinctured with a cocktail of flavorings, colorings and assorted chemicals to feed the fast-growing electronic cigarette industry.

Click here to read the full article>

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Governments versus Big Tobacco in trade talks

Beginning in the 1950s, trade negotiators evolved an elegant solution to a vexing problem: the risk that poor countries would seize the oil fields, mines, and factories of Western corporations that operated within their borders. Fearful of nationalization or other harsh treatment, multinationals were holding back on investment. Everyone lost.

Click here to read the full article>

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Gay-marriage backers, Philip Morris spent big on lobbying last year

new report finds that both the successful campaign to legalize gay marriage and the unsuccessful campaign to stop cigarette and tobacco tax increases spent more than $1 million on lobbying in Minnesota last year.

Click here to read the full article>

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#TruthInTrade Day 1: Big Tobacco Uses Bad Trade Laws to Fight Anti-Smoking Protections

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) today launched his #TruthInTrade campaign to highlight the threats free trade agreements – negotiated in secret – pose to the American people.  Poorly-crafted trade deals have made it easier for Big Tobacco to promote their harmful products to children and teens, by challenging regulations on cigarettes and other tobacco products. More information about #TruthinTrade is availablehere.

Click here to read the full article>

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6 States to Lose out on $500 million from tobacco settlement?

The 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, the largest civil litigation settlement in U.S. history, dramatically changed tobacco control in the United States. The settlement, between the major tobacco companies (Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, and Lorillard) and 46 U.S. States, banned advertising that targets children, eliminated billboard advertising, and made available to the public millions of important tobacco documents. Read the text of the MSA here>

States at Risk of Financial Loss

The tobacco companies also agreed to pay yearly installments (totaling over $200 billion over the first 25 years) to 46 states, in order to settle lawsuits for tobacco-related public health costs. In exchange, states agreed to pass laws to stop corporations that were not part of the MSA from gaining an economic advantage over those that settled. Read more about the MSA here> and here>.

Issues arising from the MSA resurfaced in a recent arbitration. The arbitration case is about whether several states met their requirements under the MSA. In September 2013, a ruling found that six states – including Pennsylvania – did not “diligently enforce” that law. Therefore, the tobacco companies who participated in the settlement are entitled to an approximately $180 million reduction in this year’s payment to the state of Pennsylvania because the state failed to collect required payments in 2003 from the sales of products by competitors that did not join the settlement.

In early March 2014, the Pennsylvania state attorney general’s office asked a judge to throw out that ruling, arguing that it incorrectly calculated tobacco sales, which led to an overstated amount that the state needed to collect. The original arbitration ruling is incredibly detrimental to the state.

Currently, Pennsylvania receives roughly $320 million annually from the MSA fund. A loss of $180 million of that payment will jeopardize Pennsylvania’s tobacco prevention and cessation program.

However, the ruling could have ramifications far beyond the loss of the 2014 payment. The arbitration only deals with 2003; if tobacco companies seek payments from previous years, it could cost Pennsylvania billions of dollars overall. There are several other states named in the arbitration ruling as well: Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, and Maryland.

These six states could see payments from the tobacco settlement decline by a total $500 million. Read more here>.

If the arbitration ruling is upheld, the loss of funding will have an extremely negative impact on tobacco prevention, cessation, research and other programs in these states.

The Pennsylvania Common Court Pleas has not yet issued a ruling in this case. Check back for updates on this case.

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Indonesia Steps Up Fight Against Australia’s Plain-Packaging Rules for Tobacco Products

By Daniel Pruzin

March 10 — Indonesia will join Honduras and Ukraine in seeking a World Trade Organization panel ruling on whether Australia’s tough plain-packaging rules for tobacco products violate global trade rules.

In a notification circulated by the WTO March 6, Indonesia said it would request the establishment of a WTO dispute panel to rule on its claims that the Australian measures violate provisions under the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) and Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) by imposing restrictions on the use of trademarks, geographical indications and other markings.

Indonesia initiated its complaint in September by requesting WTO consultations with Australia on the issue, and the talks took place Oct. 29. Indonesia said these talks “clarified certain issues pertaining to this matter, but failed to resolve the dispute,” thus prompting the request for a panel.

The request will be taken up at a meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on March 26.

Indonesia’s move is the latest indication that critics of plain packaging may be ramping up their efforts against the Australian rules, which ban the sale of tobacco products with their usual logos. Brand names can be placed only on the lower part of the front and the top and bottom of the package, and the names must be in a standard font style, size and color.

The restrictions took effect on Dec. 1, 2012.

Honduras and Ukraine, which have already secured the establishment of WTO panels to rule on their separate complaints against the plain-packaging measures, met with Australian counterparts March 5 for a fourth round of talks on the selection of a single three-member panel to examine their complaints.

Cuba and the Dominican Republic have also initiated WTO proceedings against the Australian rules but have not yet requested the establishment of panels.

Broader Implications

The dispute has implications for other countries such as Ireland, New Zealand and the U.K., which are considering similar plain-packaging restrictions. U.S. business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the United States Council for International Business and the National Foreign Trade Council have criticizing plain packaging for what they say is the destruction of an entire industry’s legitimate rights to trademark protection and branding.

The complainants charge that the requirements violate various provisions under TRIPs, including Article 20. The article states that the use of a trademark in the course of trade “shall not be unjustifiably encumbered by special requirements, such as use with another trademark, use in a special form, or use in a manner detrimental to its capability to distinguish the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.”

The WTO complainants also charge the measures violate the TBT Agreement because they are more trade-restrictive than necessary to achieve Australia’s stated objective of reducing the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco products to consumers, particularly the young.

Health advocates, including World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan, have come to Australia’s defense, arguing that the WHO’s 2003 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control gives countries the right to impose restrictions on tobacco packaging in order to promote public health objectives.

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ASH Campaign Coordinator Speaks at UN

ASH Campaign Coordinator Shana Narula was at the UN to discuss tobacco and the post-2015 agenda.  Click here to view the webcast>

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Rehoboth passes smoking ban

REHOBOTH BEACH — Rehoboth Beach’s slogan is “The Nation’s Summer Capital,” but this summer it could also be “Thank You For Not Smoking.”

Click here to read the full article>

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European Parliament passes sweeping anti-tobacco law

The European Parliament stands on the public health side in tobacco vote

Today’s endorsement of the new TPD strengthens the current European regulation on tobacco in several ways. Among other measures, it increases the size of the pictorial and text health warnings to cover 65% of tobacco packages and bans flavoured cigarettes and features on packaging that play down the health risks of smoking. There is evidence to show that these measures encourage smokers to give up and discourage non-smokers from starting (2).

Click here to read the full article>

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Editorial on pictorial warnings on cigarette packets

Governments propose, Oppositions oppose.  That’s a four-word capture of parliamentary tradition.  Considering prevalent numbers the outcome is predictable.  One cannot fault the opposition for opposing when legislation tabled for vote is of a self-serving nature.  And yet, the recent unanimous decision to make it compulsory to carry pictorial warnings on cigarette packets does indicate that there are key areas where bipartisanship can yield tangible results.

Click here to read the full article>

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Should Tobacco Marketing be Illegal?

This January marked the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon’s General report on Smoking and Health. On that anniversary, a new Surgeon General’s report, The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress, was released. Read the report here> That report indicates that since the first report in 1964, more than 20 million premature deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to cigarette smoking.

The report focuses on a myriad of tobacco issues, but one topic keeps recurring: marketing. Thousands of tobacco-related deaths can be tied to marketing by tobacco companies.

For example, the report concludes, “The tobacco epidemic was initiated and has been sustained by the aggressive strategies of the tobacco industry, which has deliberately misled the public on the risks of smoking cigarettes.”

In the 50 years since the first Surgeon General’s report came out, a lot has changed. However, tobacco companies are still marketing cigarettes and cigarettes are still killing over 440,000 Americans each year.

What else can be done?

Maybe the answer lies in criminal liability for these marketing schemes, an idea that is not without precedent. In Williams v. Philip Morris, the Oregon Supreme Court described the tobacco industry’s history of marketing and promotional schemes as “extraordinarily reprehensible,” emphasizing the criminal implications of the harms caused by this industry’s actions. Read the case here>

Additionally, the Oregon Supreme Court discussed the “the possibility of severe criminal sanctions, both for the individual who participated and for the corporation generally,” as a result of aggressive and deceptive promotion of dangerous tobacco products. Perhaps if Big Tobacco is subject to criminal liability for their marketing, we will have a smoke-free society by 2064 – the 100th anniversary of the Surgeon General’s report.

Could criminal liability be the way to end Big Tobacco cigarette marketing?

Please leave a comment below or continue the conversation with ASH on Facebook or Twitter via @ASHOrg.

 

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Boom in e-cigarette sales divides smoking campaigners

In the window of a hairdresser’s in a west London side-street, there is an array of brightly coloured little bottles, which the casual passer-by who doesn’t look too closely might assume had something to do with hair conditioning. References to best “juice” don’t immediately give the game away. You probably need to have come across vaping already to realise that you are looking at the paraphernalia beloved by aficionados of e-cigarettes.

Click here to read the full article>

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Govt remains steadfast on tobacco

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has reaffirmed Malaysia’s position that it wants tobacco to be excluded from trade liberalisation discussions under the United States-sponsored Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Click here to read the full article>

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TPP: Tobacco control alliance calls for support for Malaysia’s bid to exclude tobacco

PETALING JAYA: All negotiating countries involved in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement must fully support Malaysia’s proposal to totally exclude tobacco from the trade pact, said the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA).

Click here to read the full article>

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Only a Blanket Exemption for Tobacco Will Suffice in the TPP

Exceptions leave too many openings for aggressive tobacco companies

WASHINGTON, DC. 21 February – Negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement are currently meeting in Singapore in the hopes of ironing out a set of thorny political issues remaining after years of talks. Among the most important of those issues is the treatment of tobacco in what will become the largest regional trading bloc in the world. It is imperative that the negotiating countries accept only a complete exemption for tobacco in the Agreement. Half-measures will give the tobacco industry avenues to block or overturn public health goals.

Over the past three decades, the tobacco industry has increasingly used trade and investment agreements to litigate against laws and regulations meant to diminish the estimated 1 billion deaths this century expected from tobacco use. Such suits cost governments millions in legal costs, win or lose, and are an attempt to dissuade governments from even attempting to protect future generations from the disease and death caused by tobacco.

Last August, Malaysia took a bold step by proposing to exempt, or “carve-out” tobacco entirely from the TPP, meaning that tobacco control measures would be immune to lawsuits under the Agreement. The public health community enthusiastically agreed, calling on the U.S. and other TPP governments to endorse the proposal. The dozens of groups in the U.S. calling for strong action on tobacco in the TPP, representing hundreds of thousands of individual doctors, lawyers and public officials, include the American Public Health Association, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, and the National Association of Attorneys General.

Law Professor Jane Kelsey of the University of Auckland has released an analysis of the pitfalls of settling for less than a full carve-out. The analysis is based on years of research and experience in dealing with the tobacco industry. The best safeguard against the tobacco industry is a concise, explicit statement excluding tobacco products from the agreement entirely.

Tobacco is unique – it is the only consumer product that kills when used exactly as intended, ending nearly 6 million lives a year. It is by far the world’s leading cause of preventable death, responsible for about 1 in 5 of all deaths. It should not be treated the same as other commodities in global trade.

 

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FDA issues first orders to stop sale, distribution of tobacco products

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued orders today to stop the further sale and distribution of four tobacco products currently on the market. The action marks the first time the FDA has used its authority under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to order a manufacturer of currently available tobacco products to stop selling and distributing them.

Click here to read more>

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Tobacco Progress at the UN

The UN Secretary General released his progress report on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) from 2011 to the present. This report was mandated by the Political Declaration on NCDs. It serves as the first step in the preparations for the 2014 UN Review and Assessment on NCDs. In the report, it explains the new challenges for addressing NCDs, actions taken thus far by the World Health Organization to fulfill the commitments made in the Political Declaration, agreements made by Member States in the creation of the global NCD framework, and recommends actions to advance progress in the future.

The report has several significant mentions of tobacco control being an influential factor in NCD governance, prevention, and measuring success.

-Policies and programs that have the best progress and are cost-effective interventions to reduce exposure to risk factors for NCDs:

Top 4 of 10 are tobacco related:

    • Increasing tobacco taxes
    • Smoke-free environments
    • Health warnings and mass media campaigns
    • Ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship

 

-Global monitoring framework calls for:

  • A relative reduction of 30% in the prevalence of current tobacco use in persons over 15 years of age

 

-Action Plan indicators to inform reporting on progress include:

  • Number of countries with an operational policy, strategy or action plan, in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, to reduce the burden of tobacco use

 

-United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases:

  • Incorporate work of United Nations Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Task Force on Tobacco Control by implementing WHO FCTC

 

-Achievements in fostering international cooperation and coordination for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases:

  • COP 5- Seoul
  • Coming up: COP 6- Moscow

 

-Philanthropic Foundations:

  • Bloomberg and Gates committed to support national efforts to implement proven tobacco control policies (ex: smoke-free public places, banning tobacco advertising, increasing taxes on tobacco products and raising public awareness)

 

-Recommendations on accelerating progress:

  • Higher taxes on tobacco have dual benefit of improving health of population through reduced consumption and raising funds.

 

We appreciate the emphasis placed on the importance of tobacco control in achieving the NCD commitments made in the Political Declaration. This report will be used by ASH in our advocacy efforts for the post-2015 development agenda as well as the NCD review and assessment. Click here to read the full report from the UN Secretary General.

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Report Shows Need for US to Strengthen Efforts to Reduce Tobacco

The Report finds that while the US was once a leader in tobacco control, partial smokefree legislation, the failure to adopt graphic warnings, and the relative affordability of tobacco means that the US has fallen behind countries like Canada and Australia.

Read the original article here>

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Is the Tobacco Lobby Losing its Grip?

This week, CVS– the biggest drugstore in the country–announced that it plans to stop selling cigarettes in all of its stores 7,000-plus stores across the country.

Yesterday, we looked at the marketing, branding, and public health implications of their decision. Today, we turn to the economic implications. What does this move mean for the tobacco industry? Are we witnessing the end of cigarette companies as we know them, or does this just signal a change in the market as we know it?

Read the full article here.

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The Bigger Story of Tobacco Sales

Yesterday’s CVS news is the latest chapter in an 20 year story about neighborhoods fighting retail tobacco access.

Click here to learn more>

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CVS Quits: This is the right thing to do

Washington, DC 5 FebruaryIn a statement to Bustle news outlet ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber had the following to say about the recent CVS decision:

I don’t have any insight in CVS’ decision beyond what they have said publicly, but my opinion is that it was made for more than one reason. There certainly has been pressure on drug stores to stop selling tobacco products, ranging from letters from public health groups like ASH to individual’s standing outside entrances with signs. But this pressure should not take away from the accolades due to CVS for making this bold decision. CVS’ desire to end the hypocrisy of a health provider selling tobacco seems genuine, and I applaud them.

This voluntary decision by CVS is in line with what is being done through legislation in other countries, including Alberta, Canada which banned tobacco sales at health care facilities, public post-secondary campuses, pharmacies, and stores that contain a pharmacy in 2009. It follows Target’s decision to stop selling tobacco in the mid 1990s.

In terms of the costs and benefits of the decision, I personally believe that the $2 billion in lost revenue will be more than made up for in other ways. CVS has plans to become a major provider of cessation services. The vast majority of smokers want to quit and most have tried. A drug store that offers nicotine replacement therapy and other cessation help without the temptation of tobacco products will be very helpful for someone trying to beat addiction. It may become the “go to” store for millions of current quitters and former smokers.

The decision has been widely reported in national news, and this will garner CVS widespread good will. Almost everyone has lost a loved one to tobacco. Many people that have a choice may switch their patronage (and their prescriptions) to CVS.

At ASH we will use CVS’ example to pressure other retailers to drop tobacco from their offerings. Tobacco is the only consumer product that kills when used exactly as intended. It is not a legitimate produce in commerce, and those that sell it bear some responsibility for millions of lives lost each year.

For more information on the CVS decision click here>

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