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


Follow us on Twitter @ASHOrg and Facebook

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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.

Read on>

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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.

Read more>

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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.

read more>

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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.

read more>

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World No Tobacco Day: Taking Steps to Save Lives

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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.


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


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

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>

Related News

Expert Perspectives on Tobacco Product Waste

What a Higher Smoking Age in California Could Mean for the Rest of the Country

Big Tobacco Takes a Hit on the Chin in Chicago

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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