The man Donald Trump has chosen to direct health policy for the federal government has close ties to the tobacco industry he will be charged with regulating. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), who was confirmed as health and human services secretary by a 52-47 vote in the Senate early Friday morning, has repeatedly voted against bills that could harm big tobacco. At the same time, he’s received thousands of dollars in political contributions from the industry and held investments in tobacco companies—investments he says he didn’t know about.
As we mark World Cancer Day, let’s take a moment to envision a day in the future when cancer is no longer ever a death sentence. As our National Cancer Institute presses forward on treatment and research under its Cancer Moonshot initiative, we should also continue looking at ways to prevent cancer. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That 16-1 ratio is probably understating the benefits of focusing on prevention. We need to look at the causes of cancer, and work to remove them.
It is no surprise that one of the leading causes of cancer is tobacco use. Tobacco is responsible for 1/3 of all cancer deaths. And it is a risk factor in nearly all types of cancer. See our graphic for a sample list of cancers caused by tobacco.
Now for the good news: We can cut the cancer rate by 1/3 if we eliminate tobacco use.
And we know how to do it. No research required; no long drug trials.
In 2016, 1,685,210 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. For over a third, it is terminal. So if there had been no tobacco use in 2016, that number would have been 561,737 lower, and 187,246 people would not have to say goodbye to their loved ones.
That’s more people than live in Knoxville, TN, saved in one year.
Sadly, 2016 has come and gone, and we’re too late to save those people. But this tragedy will be repeated every year until we can cure the tobacco epidemic. Today of all days, we rededicate ourselves to this goal.
As the year comes to a close, we would like to take the time to thank all of our donors and allies for your ongoing support,
2017 will be very special, as it marks our 50th year as an organization. In honor of this anniversary, I would like to highlight some of ASH’s important historic victories. ASH had a key role in:
- National legislation banning tobacco ads on radio and television;
- State and local legislation banning smoking in public places;
- A ban on smoking on commercial airline flights;
- The development and adoption of the WHO FCTC – the international tobacco treaty and the world’s first public health treaty;
- The inclusion of a target on tobacco use reduction in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and
- An exemption for tobacco in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the first carve-out for tobacco in a major trade agreement.
We will be using our 50th year as not just a chance to take stock of our accomplishments but to redouble our efforts in ending the tobacco epidemic. For 50 years, ASH has been a “tobacco control” organization, but “tobacco control” implies that there is some acceptable level of completely preventable death and disease. For this reason, in 2017, we are setting our sights on a tobacco-free world; a world with virtually zero tobacco use prevalence. Controlling tobacco isn’t enough – we want to end the deaths caused by tobacco for good!
When ASH was formed 50 years ago, a tobacco-free world was inconceivable. But today, thanks to dramatic reductions in smoking resulting from advances in policies like marketing restrictions, smoke-free air laws and taxation, that world – a world in which tobacco is no longer sold as a legitimate commercial product – is within reach. That is the way it should be, and certainly would have been had society been aware of the dangers when cigarettes were introduced over a century ago.
If you agree, please make a donation today, in support of a truly tobacco-free world. All donations in 2016 will be MATCHED, up to $50,000, by a group of private donors.
And, keep a look out for communications from ASH throughout our 50th year about our programs and events focused on our new “tobacco-free” mission. With your help, we can make sure ASH never celebrates its 100th anniversary.
Thank you again for your support, and we wish you and your family a happy and healthy 2016.
Executive Director, ASH
That’s our vision at ASH, a tobacco-free world. This year marks ASH’s 50th anniversary, and we are as committed as ever to end the tobacco epidemic.
With your help, we can achieve this vision. Here’s how we’ll do it:
• Hold the tobacco industry, including corporate executives, accountable for the death and disease they cause;
• Change the way the world thinks and works so that everyone – governments, businesses and the public, work toward the same goal; and
• Work to end the commercial sale of tobacco.
ASH started in 1967 by fighting tobacco advertisements on radio and television. In the 1970s, we began working on smoke-free air ordinances to protect you from secondhand smoke. In the 80s, we got smoking banned on airplanes. And in 2000, we started working at the global level to help write and negotiate the world’s 1st public health treaty, which shows great promise in finally ending tobacco addiction and death. More recently, in 2015, ASH was responsible for getting a tobacco-related target included in the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, meaning every country must now work to reduce tobacco consumption.
Whether you’ve been with ASH since 1967, 2007, or just joined us this year, your donations and support have contributed to building this powerful and groundbreaking legacy of health for all.
ASH strives to be a catalyst for new ideas to end tobacco use. As we head into our 50th year of fighting Big Tobacco, we continue to work at the cutting edge, recognizing that the tobacco epidemic knows no country, state, or city boundaries.
We thrive on innovative ideas and projects that will bring about the end of tobacco. Our one-of-a-kind tobacco criminal liability project seeks to hold tobacco executives criminally responsible for the deaths they cause. ASH continues to use our international knowledge and connections to illustrate what can be done in the U.S. using best practices and global tools. These and our other projects are unique and designed with the goal of not just controlling, but eliminating, tobacco.
We’ve seen successes with these innovative approaches. This year, ASH and our allies were invited to speak at the first-ever hearing on tobacco in front of an international human rights body (photograph on the left). The honor to present before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was an acknowledgment that our position of tobacco as a human rights issue is being taken seriously by the international legal community. And, ASH’s trade program helped to achieve a tobacco carve-out in the giant Trans-Pacific Partnership.
But we can’t do this essential, life-saving work alone. We depend on help from people like you.
And despite these successes, there is still a lot of work remaining, as 6 million people still die every year because of tobacco. In 2017, as we celebrate our 50th year of service, we will develop and implement new programs.
Together, we can eliminate the harm caused by tobacco. With your donation, we can unite to build a tobacco-free world.
While in 2017 ASH marks its 50th year of service, we are determined to avoid making it to 100. With your help, we can make ASH obsolete by making tobacco vanish.
Statement from Action on Smoking and Health on E-Cigarettes Following the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report: E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released a new report today, December 8, 2016, that presents research and policy recommendations on electronic cigarettes and their use among adolescents and young adults.
The report, which was reviewed by 150 experts, highlights some of the risks associated with using electronic cigarettes, including nicotine addiction, behavior risks – including the use of other drugs and other tobacco products – as well as the potential harm from ingesting the aerosol from electronic cigarettes, which is not merely water vapor and contains potentially harmful chemicals.
“Given the increased use of e-cigarettes among youth in the U.S., we are very pleased that the Surgeon General has issued a report on this important issue. It is essential that the public health community evaluate the scientific facts surrounding electronic cigarettes,” stated Laurent Huber, Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health. “The report illustrates that while electronic cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes, they are not harmless. Electronic cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and can have negative effects on brain development, and they also have the potential to be a gateway to other tobacco products for new smokers. This scientific evidence will guide the discussions around electronic cigarettes both in the United States and around the world.”
The Surgeon General calls for action including further regulation of electronic cigarettes to protect public health, raising and enforcing minimum age requirements for electronic cigarettes, incorporating e-cigarettes into smoke-free policies, regulating marketing, launching educational campaigns, and continuing research on electronic cigarettes and their health impacts.
“While alternative nicotine delivery devices may have a role in cessation, this role needs to be supported by science. In addition, there is a worrying trend that major tobacco companies such as Philip Morris (Altria), British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, RJ Reynolds and others are aggressively expanding into the electronic cigarette markets, in part due to the less strenuous regulatory environment.” Huber continued, “Given that their aim is not to help smokers quit but rather to increase the demand for their nicotine products, the recommendations from the Surgeon General’s report, particularly the suggestions for regulating marketing and sales, will aid in ensuring that electronic cigarettes do not become a new public health threat in years to come.”
Action on Smoking and Health congratulates the Surgeon General on the release of this important report, and we welcome the opportunity to renew our commitment to continued discussions on the best practices for electronic cigarettes.
ACTION ON SMOKING AND HEALTH
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is the nation’s oldest anti-tobacco organization dedicated to health for all. ASH was formed in 1967 in response to the U.S. Surgeon General Report in order to use legal action to fight tobacco and protect nonsmokers. Today, because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, ASH uses global tools to counter the global tobacco epidemic. Learn more about our programs at www.ash.org.
December 10th is recognized worldwide as Human Rights Day. It commemorates the anniversary of the day that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The UDHR and other human rights treaties, both international and regional, protect myriad rights around the world, including the rights of women and children, and the right to life and health.
On human rights day, we believe it is important to draw attention to a human rights issue that is often forgotten: tobacco. Tobacco is the single greatest cause of preventable death in the world. A human rights approach to ending tobacco is unique because it implores or requires governments to protect their citizens by implementing tobacco control laws and strategies to end the tobacco epidemic. Governments are obligated to protect the health of their citizens, and international and regional treaties and tools like the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) provide best practices and suggestions for how to achieve those goals.
But how does tobacco apply directly to human rights issues and protected groups? Tobacco negatively impacts the right to life, right to health, right to education, children’s rights, women’s rights, and many others. Here are just a few examples-
• Tobacco farmers – people around the world who grow tobacco (many of them children), face many potential threats including pesticide poisoning and green tobacco sickness from the nicotine, which violate their right to health and life, and other harms that negatively impact human rights, like lack of access to education.
• Targeted populations – the tobacco industry often targets their advertising to specific populations based on gender, race, sexual identity and age. Some of these groups smoke at much higher rates than the general population, and they are all protected by various international and regional human rights treaties and instruments. Read more about targeted advertising to women and girls and the LGBT communities.
• The Environment – tobacco has an extremely negative impact on the environment throughout its entire life cycle, from growth through post-consumer waste. Protecting our environment also protects many human rights, such as right to health and life.
Tobacco and Human Rights progress in 2016
This year has been an exciting one for tobacco and human rights.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) – In April, ASH and two of our partner organizations, Fundación InterAmericana del Corazón Argentina and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, were invited to give a presentation before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. This was the first time the Commission considered tobacco as a human rights issue and was an important step forward. You can read more about the IACHR and our presentation here> and here>.
Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) – Several of our partners, including the two mentioned above, presented a report before CEDAW about tobacco use amongst women and girls in Argentina. The committee called on Argentina to ratify the tobacco treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, to reduce tobacco consumption among adolescents and to address the health consequences of tobacco. In doing so, CEDAW recognized the importance of the FCTC and encouraged Argentina and other countries to utilize it to protect human rights – a huge victory! Congratulations to FIC-Argentina and the O’Neill Institute.
If you are interested in learning more about ASH’s tobacco and human rights program, read more here>
What will the next four years hold for the anti-tobacco movement in the U.S.? We can’t say for sure, and if the recent track record of pollsters tells us anything, it is that concrete political predictions are a fool’s game. But for those of us concerned about tobacco and public health, there is grave reason to worry.
President-elect Trump is not a smoker, and there is no reason to believe he is personally pro-tobacco use. But there are two indications from his campaign and transition to governance that are worrying.
First, he has repeatedly expressed his disdain for government regulations, and has promised to repeal as many as possible. Regulations in the area of tobacco and health include things like smokefree indoor air laws, a minimum purchase age, and restrictions on marketing to children. Much has been done to educate youth about the dangers of trying that first cigarette. But it is regulations that have drastically reduced tobacco use in the U.S., and saved many millions of lives.
Second, Mr. Trump has invited a number of officials with ties to the tobacco industry to be a part of his administration. No doubt their tobacco ties were not their main qualification, but the ties are worrying nonetheless. You can read about these connections here. The tobacco industry has a long history of influencing governments from within. There are myriad ways even one senior administrator can halt and roll back progress in the struggle against tobacco.
We will urge Mr. Trump and his administration to recognize the unique nature of tobacco and to see the moral as well economic wisdom of continuing the fight to reduce its use and impact on society. With your help, we have made tremendous gains over the last half century. We cannot let your investments in ASH or our joint advancements be overturned.
ASH will work tirelessly to protect and expand our public health gains. We are ready to hit the ground running, and we won’t be done until tobacco consumption is known only in the history books.
ASH is on the front line in the ongoing tobacco war, a war we helped start 50 years ago, and a war we are determined to win. In the past few years, we began to see that victory in the distance, a speck on the horizon to be sure, but reason for hope. But the tobacco industry is far from defeated, and it is clear they are rallying to counter attack.
Millions of lives are at stake. Help us stop big tobacco. Please make an urgent donation today, and support ASH as we rally OUR troops for public health.
All donations, up to $50,000, made before January 1st will be DOUBLED by a group of private donors who recognize the challenging environment we are in and who have stood up to show their support for health.
Will you join them in sending a message to the new administration that tobacco regulations cannot and must not be repealed?
Cigarettes have been commercially marketed and sold in the United States for over 100 years. The negative health effects of tobacco have been public knowledge for at least the last 50 years. The death and disease caused by tobacco has long been an epidemic that has plagued the United States and the world. So what would happen if tobacco products simply disappeared tomorrow?
A healthier environment
If tobacco vanished tomorrow, there would be many positive impacts on the environment. There would be a 5% reduction in global deforestation, because almost 500,000 acres a year are destroyed due to tobacco farming. There would be fewer pesticides and chemicals causing soil and water pollution, and fewer forest fires. Perhaps most impressively, if tobacco vanished, so would the 845,000 tons of new toxic trash produced by cigarette butts each year.
Fewer financial costs to society
In the United States, more than $156 billion a year of productivity is lost due to deaths from tobacco and diseases caused by second hand smoke. Another $170 billion goes to direct medical costs for smokers. If tobacco vanished, so would those costs to society.
But most importantly, more lives saved
Researchers estimate that the 1964 Surgeon General’s report and the tobacco control efforts that followed it have saved approximately 8 million lives in the U.S. While this figure is staggering, what would happen if the world became completely tobacco free? Worldwide, tobacco causes nearly 6 million deaths per year now, and is anticipated to cause more than 8 million deaths a year by 2030 if current trends continue. In the next 20 years, we could lose 132 million lives worldwide to tobacco related deaths. If tobacco use vanished tomorrow all those lives could be saved.
At ASH, we are working towards a world free from tobacco and a world where all of the above is possible. Watch our video and help us make tobacco vanish by making a donation today!
All donations, up to $50,000, made before midnight on December 31st will be DOUBLED by a dedicated group of private donors.
Every. Six. Seconds. A new tragedy hits as a new person dies from a tobacco-related disease. Each person leaves a hole in our families, communities, and society when they vanish.
This is unacceptable. This is preventable. And we must end it. With your help, we will.
Watch the nightmare unfold, as tobacco robs society of loved one after loved one. Then, watch the video change and portray the alternate world we seek to create at ASH, a world free from the damage, disease, and death caused by tobacco products.
If you like what you see at the end of the video – a world where tobacco products vanish – help us build that reality and end the tobacco epidemic. Stand with ASH by making a donation toward this challenging but life-saving work today.
All donations made before midnight on December 31st will be MATCHED by a group of private donors. Let your donation go twice as far and create twice the impact.
Source of global statistic used: World Health Organization
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.
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.
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.
Are you interested in this program? Read more about our next steps, and please consider donating at CrowdRise>
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.