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FDA Extends Its Authority Over Tobacco Products & E-Cigarettes, Leaving Loopholes

Statement of ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber

Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new rules that will extend its regulatory authority to include electronic cigarettes as well as cigars, pipe tobacco, nicotine gels, water pipe tobacco and hookahs.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) applauds the FDA’s action in taking this critical step. The FDA’s proposal extends regulations to prohibit free samples, vending machine sales, and outdoor advertising to all tobacco products. The proposal also prohibits sales of electronic cigarettes to those under 18 and would require producers to disclose ingredients, manufacturing processes, and data to the FDA. This step will provide the FDA and the tobacco control community with important information that will help determine the health effects of electronic cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes have grown immensely in popularity in recent years and have not been subject to federal regulation. While the FDA proposal is an important step, ASH is disappointed that the proposal does not include the regulation of the marketing of e-cigarettes nor the banning of flavors, such as bubble gum, that specifically target young people. Even if electronic cigarettes prove to be an effective tool for adults who are trying to quit, they should not be marketed to children. ASH urges the FDA to put these important regulatory issues back on the table.

Greater federal regulation of non-cigarette tobacco products is also long overdue. As society has worked to reign in the devastating health impact of cigarette smoking, the tobacco industry has used legal loopholes to addict new generations of nicotine addicts through small cigars, nicotine-containing candy, and other tobacco products. These loopholes must be closed, and ASH urges the FDA to leave no exemptions, such as the proposed exemption for premium cigars.

The FDA has given 75 days for public comment on these proposed rules. We can be sure that the tobacco industry and their allies will be working hard to blunt FDA’s attempt to fight the tobacco epidemic. ASH urges public health groups and anyone concerned about tobacco and nicotine addiction to make their voices heard.

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FDA Will Propose New Regulations for E-Cigarettes

he Food and Drug Administration will propose sweeping new rules on Thursday that for the first time would extend its regulatory authority from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes, popular nicotine delivery devices that have grown into a multibillion-dollar business with virtually no federal oversight or protections for American consumers.

Click here to read the full article>

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Scared of legal pot? Hold on. Let’s talk about tobacco.

What’s ailing us? Many serious illnesses we face are embarrassingly simple to avoid. Ezra Klein talks with Center for Disease Control director Tom Frieden.

Ezra Klein: What is the single biggest opportunity out there in health?

Tom Frieden: I would start with tobacco control. You know what, people sometimes think, “Oh, tobacco. That’s yesterday’s issue.” It still kills more people than anything else in this country and around the world. And there’s a lot more that we can do about it. It doesn’t just kill people, it disables, disfigures, causes diseases. It increases our health care cost. Tobacco is really the number one enemy of health in this country and around the world.

Read full interview here>

 

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Higher taxes on cigarettes make good sense

By Washington Post 

 

MARYLAND HAS one of the highest state-imposed cigarette tax rates in the nation ($2 per pack) and, unsurprisingly, one of the lowest smoking rates. Virginia has one of the lowest cigarette tax rates in the nation (30 cents per pack); its smoking rate is almost 20 percent higher than Maryland’s.

America is well past the debate about the health effects of smoking, but tobacco taxes in many states remain low, thanks largely to the influence of tobacco companies. Yet it is clear that higher cigarette taxes have a direct effect on smoking rates, and they are particularly effective in dissuading young people from taking up the habit.

Read Full Article Here>

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Earth Day: Kicking Butts Out of US

Cigarette butts are the most littered item worldwide. 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.

Data shows that “in 2010, over one million (1,181,589) cigarettes or cigarette filters—enough to fill 94,626 packs—were removed from American beaches and inland waterways.” Read more here> Cigarette related litter is an enormous problem, both in the United States and worldwide.

Littered cigarette butts are not just unsightly, they’re unhealthy. A single cigarette butt in a liter of water containing minnows is toxic enough to kill half of the fish within 96 hours. See study here>  Hazardous chemicals including arsenic and lead leach into water and soil and are often ingested by wildlife and pets, not to mention small children, who suffer serious health problems as a result.

There are several new laws designed to help solve this problem. One approach is to create more smoke free environments, including smoke free beaches and parks, that, among other benefits, help prevent litter in these locations. These laws have a big impact: smoke-free beach laws help reduce butts on beaches by 45%, according to the National Audubon Society.

Another approach is to create or increase penalties and enforcement for anyone who litters a cigarette butt. A recent update to Illinois’ Litter Control Act will subject anyone who tosses a cigarette on the ground to increased penalties. The first offense is a class B misdemeanor and a fine up to $1,500. The second offense is a class A misdemeanor, and the third offense is a felony that can carry a one to three year jail sentence and up to a $25,000 fine. See the act here>

Some states are considering a different tactic. New York has pending legislation that would prevent anyone from selling cigarettes in the states unless the cigarette and filter are biodegradable. See the legislation here: New York>).

California has proposed legislation that would prohibit the sale of single use filter cigarettes. See the legislation here-California>.

If you live in New York or California, please contact your representatives and encourage them to vote for these measures.

New York- contact your state assembly member to encourage them to vote YES on Assembly Bill A206-2013- here>

California- contact your state assembly member to encourage them to vote YES on Assembly Bill 1504- here>

Everyone Else- contact your state delegate to encourage them to take action against toxic cigarette waste.

*The Maryland legislature was considering a bill on this issue in their 2014 Spring Session. Please contact your MD representative, and encourage them to support biodegradable cigarette legislation when the legislature is back in session.

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

Thank you for taking action, and Happy Earth Day!

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Tobacco on TV Tied to Adult Smoking Rates

(Reuters Health) – Even though smoking appears far less frequently in U.S. television shows than it used to, its portrayal may still be triggering the urge in adult smokers, according to a new study.

Researchers reviewed patterns in TV smoking over more than 50 years and found that they tracked with changes in adult tobacco use, suggesting that even established smokers are influenced to light up by seeing it done on the small screen.

Read full article here>

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Big Tobacco Abroad

The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the downside to free trade.

…According to the World Health Institute, “nearly 80 percent of the world’s one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.” Multinational corporations are seeking their own Treaty of Nanjing: they are using free trade agreements to usurp national sovereignty and stymy economic development. Tobacco kills six million people each year, and if current trends continue, it will kill one billion people in the twenty-first century.

Enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This free trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and ten Asian-Pacific countries is currently in negotiation, but has been dragged out far past its deadline (and slowed by the President’s lack of “fast track” authority). The TPP covers 40 percent of U.S. exports and imports and may well be the most under-reported story this year.

Click here to read the full article>

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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.

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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).

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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).

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