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McConnell seeks to protect tobacco industry in trade deal

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pressing the Obama administration to protect his state’s tobacco industry in a trade deal.

McConnell is pressuring U.S. negotiators to ensure that tobacco companies can take part in the dispute settlement portion of the trade deal, with talks scheduled next week on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact with several countries in Asia and Latin America.

Read the full article here>

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Where do your candidates stand on tobacco contributions?

The ten campaigns that accepted the most tobacco money are listed below. These ten campaigns combined accepted over $500,000 in campaign contributions from tobacco corporations. As you can see, both parties and eight states are represented. This is a pervasive problem in politics. Want to read more about tobacco campaign contributions or curious where your representative’s stand? Read our blog>

or check out our 2014 Tobacco Campaign Contribution Map.

Rank Candidate Office Amount
1 Boehner, John (R-OH) House $110,000
2 Hagan, Kay R (D-NC) Senate $87,485
3 McConnell, Mitch (R-KY) Senate $62,450
4 Cantor, Eric (R-VA) House $44,400
5 Warner, Mark (D-VA) Senate $40,815
6 Barr, Andy (R-KY) House $37,610
7 Cornyn, John (R-TX) Senate $37,434
8 Posey, Bill (R-FL) House $31,362
9 McCarthy, Kevin (R-CA) House $27,500
10 Kingston, Jack (R-GA) House $25,350

**Data from Center for Responsive Politics, accurate as of Oct. 9, 2014**

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Tobacco Corporations Buy Political Influence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Megan Arendt

Office: 202-659-4310

Email: arendtm@ash.org

TOBACCO CORPORATIONS BUY POLITICAL INFLUENCE

Big Tobacco Contributes Over $1.6 Million Annually to Federal Candidates

WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 8, 2014 – The tobacco industry has always been a major player in congressional campaigns, but Action on Smoking and Health’s 2014 Campaign Contribution Map shows just how pervasive tobacco money is in politics. Action on Smoking & Health (ASH), an organization devoted to the fight against the domestic and global tobacco epidemic, produced the map, which allows you to click on your home district and see how much money your Member of Congress and Senators have accepted this election cycle.

Tobacco corporations contribute over $1.6 million annually to federal candidates. This money buys the tobacco industry access to government officials and influence over laws. This is a serious problem because there is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy interests. The World Health Organization has discussed tobacco industry interference in the past. “Tobacco use is unlike other threats to global health. Infectious diseases do not employ multinational public relations firms. There are no front groups to promote the spread of cholera. Mosquitoes have no lobbyists.”

This is a problem across political parties and across states. Politicians on both sides of the aisle accept tobacco industry campaign contributions, and 46 states have federal candidates who accepted campaign funds from the tobacco industry in the 2013-2014 election cycle.  Dr. Alfred Munzer, Chairman of the Board of ASH said, “Industries that threaten public health should not control public health policy. No politician should owe favors to tobacco corporations.”

The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first global treaty on public health, calls for governments to limit industry interference in public health policy. The guidelines for implementing FCTC Article 5.3 specifically suggest  “prohibiting tobacco industry contributions to political parties, candidates, or campaigns.”

“Even though the United States has not yet ratified the FCTC, ASH encourages politicians to voluntarily comply with the treaty’s life-saving guidelines. Refusing tobacco industry campaign contributions is one very important step that politicians can take in the fight against tobacco,” said ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber.

See which politicians have already taken this essential step and which politicians are still accepting campaign financing from the tobacco industry on ASH’s 2014 Campaign Contribution Map, available online today:

http://ash.org/map/

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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.

Follow us on Twitter @ASHOrg and Facebook www.Facebook.com/ASHglobalAction

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USTR Informally Floats ISDS Tobacco Carveout With Some TPP Countries

U.S. trade officials have reached out to some other Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries to informally float the idea of excluding tobacco-related challenges from being brought under the deal’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, according to informed sources. This move signals the United States may be ready to bring its position on this issue closer to that of public health groups, which have demanded tobacco be completely carved out from the agreement.

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U.S. Campaign Contributions

Annually, the tobacco industry contributes over $1.6 million to federal candidates and spends approximately $16.6 million lobbying Congress.

This money buys the tobacco industry access to government officials and influence over laws. This is a serious problem because there is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy interests. political map

This is not a problem for one party; politicians on both sides of the aisle accept tobacco industry campaign contributions. This is not a problem for just one state; 46 states have candidates who accepted some campaign funds from the tobacco industry. The only states that have no state level candidates that accepted funds from tobacco corporations during the 2013-2014 election are Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, DC. Industries that threaten public health should not control public health policy.

On a positive note, this spring, in honor of World No Tobacco Day, ASH certified 193 Senators and Congressman as “Free From Tobacco Money,” an award given to those representatives that have not accepted any campaign contributions from tobacco in the last 10 years. Read more here>

The tobacco industry has always been a major player in congressional campaigns, and tomorrow, the ASH Tobacco Campaign Contribution Map highlights just how pervasive tobacco money is in politics.

Check the ASH Tobacco Campaign Contribution Map to see how much your state representative has received from tobacco corporations in the 2013-2014 election, and then write, tweet or call your representative and tell them why it’s important that they refuse tobacco funding.

Not sure who your representative is? Find out here>

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Stubbing Out the Tobacco Industry’s Abuse of Trade Agreements

The tobacco industry has a long history of flexing its muscles, namely in the area of investor protection schemes, against governments in the name of protecting its own market. TTIP is an opportunity to set a good example for 21st century trade agreements by, at the minimum, recognizing the unique dangers presented by the tobacco industry, and ensuring that measures aimed at reducing the use of tobacco products cannot be subject to investor-state challenge.

Manufactured tobacco products are unique; they are the only consumer products that kill when used as intended. Without effective tobacco control policies to reduce consumption, tobacco products will kill one billion people in this century. No other consumer product kills 1 in 2 of its long-term users. That’s why 184 parties have ratified or signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – the world’s only public health treaty.

Countries across the globe are adopting tobacco control policies to protect their citizens’ health. In response, the tobacco industry is abusing investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in trade and investment agreements to sue and threaten countries over lawfully adopted, non-discriminatory tobacco control policies. Uruguay and Australia are both defending such policies against costly industry investment disputes, even after the industry comprehensively lost domestic challenges. These cases undermine the right of nations to protect the health of their citizens, and bully other nations into inaction.

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In Putin snub, US will skip global tobacco summit hosted by Russia

In a shot at Russian President Vladimir Putin, the United States will not send a delegation to Moscow this month to participate in global health talks that hold major implications for the tobacco and burgeoning e-cigarette industries.

Hosting the World Health Organization summit is a point of pride for Russia, and it is widely rumored that Putin will launch the event with a speech during the opening session of the meetings.

The decision to sit out the weeklong Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) meetings is based on U.S. displeasure over Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine in recent months, said Bill Hall, director of the news division at the Department of Health and Human Services…

“There definitely is some concern,” said Chris Bostic, deputy director of policy for Action on Smoking and Health, a group that advocates for global tobacco controls. “It is a shame that they will not be there in person.”

Read more>

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Tobacco Deaths & Taxes

In the past, the United States has been a leader in tobacco control. For the last 15 years, though, the U.S. has been falling behind as other countries have moved to protect their people from tobacco addiction and death.

For example, when it comes to tobacco prices, there are huge inconsistencies in America. The average cost of a pack of 20 cigarettes in the United States is $6.36, but this varies widely by state. A pack of Marlboro’s costs $10.08 in New York, but only $4.20 in Georgia. See more about state tobacco taxes>.

There is a direct correlation between the price of cigarettes and willingness of children to take up the habit.WHO taxes

The 2014 Surgeon General’s report called for an increase in cigarette prices to at least $10 a pack. Only one state, New York, currently meets that goal. The World Bank recommends that at least 67% of the retail price of tobacco products comes from taxes. Even the highest taxes in the U.S., in New York City and Chicago, do not reach that goal. Taxes in those cities are about 65%, but the average in the U.S. is 44.2%. Read more here>

This issue is so important that the World Health Organization chose to focus on it for World No Tobacco Day 2014. Increasing the price of tobacco products is the single most effective way to prevent initiation among nonsmokers and to reduce consumption.

On average, raising tobacco taxes to increase retail prices by 10% is estimated to reduce tobacco use by 4% in high-income countries and by about 5% in low- and middle-income countries. WHO calculates that if all countries increased taxes on cigarette packs by 50%, there would be 49 million fewer smokers (38 million fewer adult smokers and 11 million fewer young future smokers), and this would avert 11 million deaths from smoking. To learn more read the WHO brochure on Tobacco Taxes>

The United States should learn from the best practices on tobacco taxes in other countries. In London, a pack of Marlboro’s costs $14. In Norway, it costs $15.11. In Australia, within the next five years, it will cost about $20 to buy a pack of cigarettes. The U.S. is lagging behind on tobacco taxes. See more about international tobacco taxes in the Tobacco Atlas>

Report CoverThis is an area where states and localities can take action – each government is responsible for the health of its citizens and should do its best to protect against the harms of tobacco. In order to meet the goals set out in the Surgeon General’s report and by the World Bank, and more importantly, in order to save lives, the United States should learn from international best practices and implement higher tobacco taxes.

To read more about the lessons U.S. states can learn from international best practices on tobacco control, please read our new report: The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: An Implementation Guide for U.S. State and Local Officials.

State and local officials interested in sample legislation and other tools can also visit our database at http://ash.org/usfctcimplementationguide/.

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Why I Fight: News/Talk Radio Host & Author Forrest Carr

My Great Cigarette Rebellion

How my mother’s simple request to run an errand changed my life.

My doctor doesn’t believe I’ve never smoked.

In January I was diagnosed with a relatively rare form of kidney cancer—Transitional Cell Carcinoma, which had begun in the kidney and then descended into the bladder. Thankfully, it had only just arrived in the latter when we caught it, otherwise I’d be of considerably less use to myself right now.   But the left kidney had to come out.

Right after delivering the news, my doctor—who is world renowned in his field—asked whether I smoked.  I assured him I didn’t.  Then he wanted to know when I’d quit.  I told him the stone cold truth: I’ve never puffed a cigarette in my life.  An eyebrow went up.  He didn’t quite say, “Uh, huh.”  But I could tell he wanted to.  He went on to explain that the disease I had was considered a smoker’s cancer. Kidney cancers are not particularly unusual, he told me, but my particular type is.

The next time I was in the office, we repeated the Q&A drill about my smoking.  It occurred to me that perhaps he’d forgotten my earlier answers, but I had a hard time believing that.  Smoking is an important part of any patient’s past history, and doctors take careful notes on that kind of thing.  It seemed much more likely that he just flat didn’t believe me.  I stuck to my story, and explained that both of my parents had smoked.  He seemed to accept the answer.

He hadn’t.  A little while later he found the opportunity to sneak out into the lobby and ask my wife how long it had been since I’d quit smoking.  When I found out that he’d checked up on me in this fashion, I tried not to be hurt about having my honesty questioned.  I can only assume that some of his other patients must lie like dogs about this kind of thing, perhaps not wanting to be told to quit.

To say I was around second hand smoke when I was a kid is like saying the average fish occasionally spends some time in a wet environment.  My mother spent every waking moment with a Kent III snugged between the middle and index fingers of her right hand.  A smoldering coffin nail could be found between my father’s yellowed fingers at every moment, period, waking or otherwise.  By the time I was 4 or 5, the hardwood floor by his side of the bed was covered with about a hundred black burn marks from cigarettes he’d dropped after drifting off to sleep.  Mom finally made him stop smoking in bed after he set fire to his second mattress.

I have several paperback books that used to sit on my bookshelf in my boyhood room.  The spines for all of them are yellow with nicotine.  Obviously, books don’t breathe.  If such discoloration can happen to books just from sitting there soaking in the ambience, can you imagine what my lungs must look like?  I lived with my parents for about 20 years.

As someone who’s always been interested in the news, by my teen years I was very aware of the dangers of tobacco.  I’d long since given up trying to shame my mother into quitting.  Her stated excuse was that when she’d started smoking as a teen (she never told me when, but I’m guessing she’d been smoking since about the age of 15), the dangers of tobacco weren’t known.   The actual fact is that she just didn’t want to quit.  And forget about Dad.  There was no arguing with him on any subject at any time about nuthin’ (a trait he passed on to me).

When I was 16, my parents bought me a very used Toyota Corolla so that I could drive to school.  It was only natural that they’d ask me to go run errands for them from time to time, which I did without complaint.  Until one day Mom asked me to go down to the neighborhood Git ‘n’ Go to pick up a carton of Kent III’s.

I said no.

Both parents knew how I felt about cigarettes.  Plus, what they were asking me to do was illegal, and the fact that a store manager friend of theirs was willing to slip me a carton under the counter to take home to them didn’t change that.  So when I balked, I really thought they’d quickly back down and withdraw the request.  But my father had commanded a platoon of tanks in World War II, and was not one to retreat in the face of any challenge, especially one to his authority.  Voices were raised.  Fingers were jabbed.  Threats were issued.  Dad told me that if I didn’t hop in the car and go get those cigarettes right that very moment, he would take my car keys away from me.  I assumed he was bluffing, since this would have entailed one of the two of them having to drive me to school.  But he wasn’t any less hotheaded than I was.  When I refused to give in, he demanded the keys from me.  I handed them over.

For the entire rest of the day and the first part of the following morning, Dad left me wondering what was going to happen next.  Just before the time I’d normally leave for school, he walked up to me and returned the keys without a word.  Nothing more was ever said about it.  And neither of them ever asked me to go on a cigarette run again.

It didn’t even occur to me until much later that I’d gotten off pretty easily.  At the time, I was attending an expensive private high school, driving a car that my parents had given me as a gift, and using their credit card to pay for the gas.  They could have taken any of that from me in a flash.  I’ve lived long enough and seen enough by now to know that plenty of other parents would have done just that, and would have proceeded to smack any little teen rebellion like mine down hard.  But I got away with it. 

Still, the incident helped kindle in me a life-long distrust of authority, and a willingness to stand up to it. At the age of 16, my parents were the main authority figures in my life, and I’d never challenged them before or defied a parental order in any way, shape, form or fashion.  In fact, I was a very respectful kid. But I knew cigarettes were wrong, and that any authority commanding me to participate in the purchase of them therefore must also be wrong.  Later it occurred to me that the government had to be wrong, too, for allowing cigarettes to happen (a view I have since softened).  This newfound distrust of power would guide my life in the world of journalism, sometimes to my detriment.  My Cigarette Alamo would not be the first time I’d stand up to authority, but little did I know at the time that I wouldn’t always get away with such things.  (And those are stories for another day).

Two years later, my grandfather began a long, slow, and final decline from emphysema (these days most often referred to as COPD).  Papa smoked until the day he died.  In fact, his last exhalation on planet Earth was filled with cigarette smoke.  My mother was holding the cigarette for him.  I had hoped that watching her father waste away before her eyes from the effects of a lifetime of smoking would finally convince her to give it up.  Nope.

About 20 years later, her brother, my beloved uncle who was also a lifetime smoker, suffered a major breathing crisis.  His doctor told him that he’d be dead soon if he didn’t quit.  He did, giving it up cold turkey.  What they don’t tell you is that when you quit at that stage, you don’t get better.  Instead, you get worse more slowly.  His sharply declining health finally killed him a few years later.

In his final year, my father had three different kinds of cancers competing to put him in the ground. Brain cancer won.

Still Mom did not quit.  She kept smoking those Kent III’s until she faced the same breathing crisis her brother had.  Only then did she stop—a feat, as he had done, that she accomplished cold turkey.  But she faced the same fate as her brother, and within a few short years COPD had killed her, too.  And like her father, she spent her final year wearing an oxygen tube.

If America’s Prohibition era of the last century, along with our current disastrous war on drugs, have demonstrated anything, it’s that you can’t separate people from their vices.  Ultimately, it’s always up to the individual to make a choice, or make a stand, as the case may be.

When I see kids hanging out in front of their high schools or the local convenience store smoking, I just want to scream at ‘em.  I hear that kids puff away because they think it’s cool to have a cigarette dangling from their lips, and stylish to be able to pose and gesture with one held between the fingers. One would hope for a bit more social consciousness.  At a time when some of our youth are crusading for government and business to think less about profits and more about the environment and other issues affecting the public good, these kids are forking over their money to greedy, lying, cynical, rat bastard corporations who sell them poisons and then feel good about it.  There is a word for this kind of consumer.  It’s called, “chump.”

If you smoke, I respect your right to make that choice.  What I don’t respect is the choice you made.  Still, if you think that whatever pleasure you’re deriving from the act is worth it, and you don’t mind dying in suffocating agony a bit further down the road, then go ahead, knock yourself out.  Certain corporate executives, tobacco farmers, and undertakers will thank you for it.

Smokers love to invoke their rights.  Of course, later some of them will be citing their right to have me help pay for their cancer, cardiac or stroke care.  Fine.  That’s the way the system works.  However, to steal a phrase, your right to swing your cigarette ends where my nose begins.  In particular, exposing kids to second hand smoke ought to be considered a form of child abuse.  No, I’m not seriously suggesting that children of smokers should be removed from the home.  But is it something a judge should consider in custody disputes?  Absolutely.

As for me, I’m not angry with my parents.  They raised me well and did a lot of good things to set me on the right path.  I thank and honor them for that.  I’m also grateful they helped inspire me to join a profession where I could challenge authority and speak truth to power for a living.  It’s a thankless job. But somebody—well, you get my drift.

And I’m not just blowing smoke.

###

I just had my second surgery for bladder cancer.  I’m publicly sharing what normally is a very personal detail so that others in this situation will know this happens to a lot of people, and it isn’t necessarily the end of the world.  This surgery had far fewer complications and residual pain than the first one.   It now seems likely that I’ll be getting this done every few months from now on.   Believe me, when it comes to tobacco-related cancers, there are far worse fates.

REPRINTED with permission from Forrest Carr who is a news/talk radio host and author. He writes “The Bashful Bloviator” bloghttp://thebashfulbloviator.blogspot.com/2014/09/my-great-cigarette-rebellion.html

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Statement from the Chairman of the ASH Board of Trustees

Al headshot

Dr. Alfred Munzer, MD

50 years ago the 1st Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health clearly established the terrible toll taken by tobacco on the health of smokers and set the United States on a public health campaign to rid the nation of the threat posed by the use of tobacco to the smoker and to those involuntarily exposed to second-hand smoke.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has been a part of that campaign from the outset.  But while the campaign has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the prevalence of tobacco use, far too many young people are still enticed into a life of addiction to tobacco and far too many Americans continue to suffer and die as a result of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke. 

In view of the global reach of the tobacco industry, ASH has played a key role for the past 15 years to extend the campaign to stem the epidemic of tobacco related disease beyond the United States to countries around the world through the development of the 1st treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Although the FCTC has been signed, but not ratified by the United States, it provides a useful pathway to states and localities to update their tobacco control efforts and to advance the public health campaign that was started 50 years ago.

As a physician who witnesses the pain and suffering caused by tobacco use day in and day out, I welcome the release of ASH’s report The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: An Implementation Guide for U.S. State and Local Officials.

I hope public health officials at all levels of government will measure their tobacco control efforts against the standards set by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. I also urge members of state legislatures to strongly consider motions expressing support for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and prod the federal government to ratify the convention.

Dr. Alfred Munzer, MD

Chairman

Board of Trustees

Action on Smoking and Health

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A Winnable Battle

The CDC identifies reducing tobacco as a “Winnable Battle” because tobacco is a public health priority with “large-scale impact on health and with known, effective strategies to address them.”

For ASH, the ability to significantly improve the protection of U.S. citizens from tobacco-related damage, disease, and death is the driver behind our work in public health. Eradicating the tobacco epidemic should be a major national priority because tobacco use is still the #1 preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing about 480,000 Americans each year. Tobacco use is responsible for over 20% of all American deaths.

But, as Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” That principle is what ASH stands by and that principle is what ASH hopes to inspire others to believe in when reading our latest report: The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: An Implementation Guide for U.S. State and Local Officials.

To combat the tobacco epidemic, countries around the world negotiated and implemented, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The FCTC, the world’s 1st international health treaty, is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health and includes measures that encourage nations to take an all-encompassing approach to effective tobacco policy.

The United States, unfortunately, is not a party to the FCTC, but the FCTC and its guidelines still provide excellent tobacco control strategies that can be implemented in American states, counties, cities, and towns.

Here at ASH, we are firm believers in the concept “change begins at home.” That is why we created this FCTC Implementation Guide for U.S. State and Local Officials. The guide illustrates how effective FCTC policies and useful strategies from other countries can be implemented by state and local officials in their home jurisdictions. The guide also provides model legislation and legal resources to assist local lawmakers in creating tobacco control policies.

Implementation of FCTC measures at the state and local levels would provide many more Americans with the much needed protection from the damage, disease, and death attributed to tobacco products and their use.

While ASH strongly advocates for U.S. ratification and implementation of the FCTC, national ratification is not a prerequisite for local action. This guide is intended to help U.S. state and local officials take steps toward making their communities increasingly free from tobacco.

For more information and resources please read the ASH WHO FCTC U.S. State and Local Implementation Guide and visit our database.

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Cigarettes, Unbranded

The products are virtually indistinguishable from one another, yet they retain more loyalty than Mac computers. And an expensive international legal battle is raging over them. Why? Because the products—cigarettes—are a recognized public health hazard, and governments around the world are trying to do whatever it takes to stop their citizens from lighting up.

“Whenever a country goes beyond the WHO tobacco control recommendations, tobacco companies sue,” says Chris Bostic, policy director for the nonprofit group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). “They do this not so much for a legal win, but to send a legal chill.”

Today, 18 per cent of US adults smoke, as some states levy high cigarette taxes and adopt aggressive laws against second-hand smoke. This shift is less evident in the South – home to Johnson – and the Midwest, so that in Kentucky, for example, the adult smoking rate is 30 per cent. And though the MSA bans advertising aimed at “youth”, Bostic says Big Tobacco targets the “young” market.

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South Korea seeks near-doubling of cigarette price

South Korea’s government has proposed nearly doubling the price of cigarettes to lower the country’s smoking rate.

Under its plan, the average price per pack would go up to 4,500 won (£2.70, $4.35) by the start of next year. It is currently 2,500 won.

But the proposal may undergo changes in parliament as it is facing significant opposition, reports Yonhap news agency.

The government is hoping to cut the smoking rate among men, which is among the highest in the developed world.

About 41% of South Korean men smoke, according to 2012 figures from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development - higher than the 26% OECD average.

South Korea’s overall smoking rate, at 23%, is also higher than the OECD average of 21%.

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‘Ban E-cigarette use indoors,’ says WHO

The World Health Organization says there should be a ban on the use of e-cigarettes indoors and that sales to children should stop.

In a report the health body says there must be no more claims that the devices can help smokers quit – until there is firm evidence to support this.

WHO experts warn the products might pose a threat to adolescents and the foetuses of pregnant women.

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FDA ‘Deeming’ Update

More organizations have revealed thecomments that they submitted to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on whether certain tobacco products should fall under the agency’s authority.

Aug. 8 was the deadline for interested parties to submitpublic comments to the FDA on the proposed tobacco “deeming” regulations–”Deeming Tobacco Products to Be Subject to the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act; Regulations on the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Required Warning Statements for Tobacco Products” ( FDA-2014-N-0189).

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Big Tobacco Tries to Don A New Look: Are You Buying?

Big Tobacco wants to reclaim the hearts and wallets of most adult Americans by rebranding its tarred image — pitching “smokeless” e-cigarettes, embracing the mantra “harm reduction,” and funding science that could turn tobacco plants into life-saving medicine.

That tactical shift, not surprisingly, has cultivated cynics like anti-tobacco crusader Patrick Reynolds, grandson of R.J. Reynolds, who calls the moves mere “window-dressing PR campaigns.”

Full Article>

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In New Calculus on Smoking, It’s Health Gained vs. Pleasure Lost

WASHINGTON — Rarely has the concept of happiness caused so much consternation in public health circles.

Buried deep in the federal government’s voluminous new tobacco regulations is a little-known cost-benefit calculation that public health experts see as potentially poisonous: the happiness quotient.

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Fmr US Surgeon General Dr. Jesse Steinfeld dies at 87

Three U.S. surgeons general have played the biggest roles in alerting the public to the dangers of tobacco.

In 1964, Dr. Luther Terry issued the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, irrefutably linking smoking with lung disease and other illnesses. The report led to a sharp drop in smoking and to the first warning labels on cigarette packages.

Seven years later, Dr. Jesse L. Steinfeld issued a second report focused on the dangers of secondhand smoke. He proposed what he called the Non-Smoker’s Bill of Rights, which said that the country must free non-smokers from the hazards and annoyance of other people’s addictions. He strengthened the warning on packages and issued the first ban on smoking in certain government buildings.

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E-cigarettes may not be the savior of the tobacco industry

E-cigarettes have been heralded as a potential savior for a tobacco industry desperate for new products and customers in the face of a shrinking number of smokers and punitive damages such as the $23.6 billion awarded by a Florida jury last week.

But it turns out that regular smokers prefer the real thing.

“There is consumer dissatisfaction with the product, which leads to high levels of rejection” said Vivian Azer, tobacco and beverages analyst at Cowen & Co. in New York. “Consumers are willing to try the product, but they are not satisfied.”

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Tobacco Costs the World More than GDP of All Low Income Countries

“Tobacco use alone costs the world 1-2% of its GDP each year,” Helen Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Program told the United Nations on July 11th.July.helen

The world’s GDP in 2013 was nearly $75 trillion.  One percent of the world’s GDP makes the global cost of tobacco higher than the total GDP of all low income countries, which is about $575 billion. Member states echoed the concern for the negative impacts of tobacco by renewing their commitment to accelerate implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (see the UN’s NCD Review Outcome Document from July 9 -11, 2014).

Administrator Clark’s comment came during the UN’s review and assessment of the current state of prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Many UN member states in attendance emphasized the importance of the FCTC, tobacco control, and tobacco taxation in their statements.* In addition, they called for resources for the prevention and control of NCDs globally and at country level.

We were pleased to see that the final document included a key commitment for countries to set up national NCD targets, including the reduction of tobacco prevalence by 30%. These targets should be put in place at the national level by 2015. As stated in ASH’s Avoidable Death Report, tobacco taxes are an effective and proven way to significantly reduce tobacco use and can help reach such targets.

Now, civil society must hold governments accountable to their commitments regarding the allocation of resources for national policies and action plans on NCDs. Although there were a significant number of government ministers in attendance at this UN Review, the majority were health ministers.

We must get all ministers and high level officials to prioritize tobacco control, NCDs, and the FCTC in national development plans. These issues are not just health issues – they are development issues, as highlighted in ASH’s Brief on tobacco and sustainable development.

At this time, the tobacco control community must come together in full force to ensure that the next set of development goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – include tobacco control. The negotiations will be ongoing in the coming months.

We encourage the tobacco control community to spread this message of prioritizing tobacco control to governments and UN missions in New York.

Please contact us if you need any assistance or would like any more information.

 

* Including Costa Rica, USA, Mexico, Jamaica, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, CARICOM, Colombia, Australia and Spain.

**GDP Source: http://databank.worldbank.org/data/download/GDP.pdf

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Massive punitive damages against tobacco company in wrongful death suit.

MIAMI — A jury in northwestern Florida awarded a staggering $23 billion judgment late Friday against the country’s second-largest tobacco company for causing the death of a chain smoker who died of lung cancer at the age of 36.

The company, the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, promised a prompt appeal.

Michael Johnson Sr. died in 1996 after smoking for more than 20 years. In 2006, his widow, Cynthia Robinson, of Pensacola, sued R. J. Reynolds the maker of the Kool brand cigarettes her husband had smoked, arguing that the company had deliberately concealed the health hazards its product caused.

The four-week trial ended Wednesday. The jury deliberated for 18 hours over two days, first awarding $17 million in compensatory damages and then emerging at 10 p.m. Friday with a $23.6 billion punitive judgment.

Read more>

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Health Preemption Behind Closed Doors: Trade Agreements and Fast-Track Authority

Eric CrosbieMAMariaelena GonzalezPhD, and Stanton A. GlantzPhD

ABSTRACT

Noncommunicable diseases result from consuming unhealthy products, including tobacco, which are promoted by transnational corporations. The tobacco industry uses preemption to block or reverse tobacco control policies. Preemption removes authority from jurisdictions where tobacco companies’ influence is weak and transfers it to jurisdictions where they have an advantage.

International trade agreements relocate decisions about tobacco control policy to venues where there is little opportunity for public scrutiny, participation, and debate. Tobacco companies are using these agreements to preempt domestic authority over tobacco policy. Other transnational corporations that profit by promoting unhealthy foods could do the same.

“Fast-track authority,” in which Congress cedes ongoing oversight authority to the President, further distances the public from the debate. With international agreements binding governments to prioritize trade over health, transparency and public oversight of the trade negotiation process is necessary to safeguard public health interests. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print July 17, 2014: e1–e7. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302014)

Read More: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2014.302014

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Why Uruguay’s David and Goliath fight with big tobacco really matters

LIMA, Peru — A protracted legal battle in an obscure World Bank tribunal over the principles of market competition in a South American backwater. Even by trade dispute standards, this one sounds arcane — the perfect cure for insomnia perhaps.

But before you nod off, here’s a triple shot of espresso:

Uruguay’s fight with Philip Morris, the world’s largest cigarette manufacturer, just might mark a turning point in the global smoking pandemic that the World Health Organization (WHO) expects to cost up to 1 billion lives this century.

Four out of five of those deaths will happen in developing nations, acting like a ball and chain on those countries’ attempts to grow economically and lift hundreds of millions out of desperate poverty.

Philip Morris, whose brands include Marlboro, is objecting to a 2009 Uruguayan law that requires cigarette packs to be 80 percent covered by health warnings, including graphic photos of cancer victims.

Read More>

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New York Victory: Court Upholds Law to Prohibit Tobacco Discounts

In 2013, New York City passed a law (Local Law 1021-A-2013) that sets a minimum price for cigarettes sold in the city. The law also prohibits the use of coupons or promotional discounts to lower that price. Tobacco companies challenged the law on the grounds that it violated their First Amendment right to free speech. Recently, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York returned its decision and upheld New York’s law. photo 2

Increasing the price of tobacco products is the single most effective way to prevent initiation among nonsmokers and to reduce consumption.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has concluded that a 50% increase in price lowers consumption by 20%. Raising tobacco taxes is particularly effective in reducing youth smoking, as youth often have less disposable income and shorter smoking histories than adults. In high-income countries, a 10% increase in tobacco prices will reduce consumption by about 4%. Read more about price measures here>

In an attempt to offset the rising cost and keep tobacco products cheap and more appealing to young people, tobacco corporations often offer discounts. According to the CDC, tobacco corporations spent $7.76 billion on price discounts and promotional allowances in 2011, just in the U.S. That amounted to 92.7% of all cigarette marketing expenditures. Read more about promotions and marketing here>

New York City’s law is intended to prevent tobacco corporations from circumventing price increases by offering discounts. Tobacco corporations argued that it limits their right to free speech by restricting the dissemination of price information. The Court held that the law is aimed at regulating the price of tobacco products, which serves the city’s legitimate goal of reducing tobacco use. The law does not limit the corporation’s speech about tobacco products, and therefore does not violate the First Amendment. Read the decision here>

This is an important victory for New York and for public health. States, counties and cities can now take steps to prevent tobacco corporations from undermining price increases. Coupon and promotional bans have the potential to be important tools in the fight against tobacco.

Read more about what state and local governments can do to combat the tobacco epidemic and see examples of model legislation in our upcoming Implementation Guide and database. Check back soon!

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

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Action Review: 2nd Quarter Edition 2014

What Makes Tobacco Different?Certification

In recognition of the World Health Organization’s World No Tobacco Day on May 31, 2014, Action on Smoking and Health certified 193 Senators and Representatives “Free from Tobacco Money.” This certification was given to all U.S. Senators and Representatives who have not accepted campaign money from the tobacco industry over the past ten years.

Click here to read what makes tobacco money different>

Click here to read the Press Release>

Click here to see all Recipients>


Program Updates

New Report

Many Americans believe that the war on tobacco has been won, but the fact is the number of smokers is climbing globally. ASH, in partnership with Legacy, released a new report to examine US tobacco control efforts in the 50 years since the release of the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking & Health – viewed through a global lense. Read on>

 

Post-2015

Guest Editorial by Director Laurent Huber discussing why goals to reduce tobacco use must be included in the new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) currently being negotiated at the United Nations to replace the expiring Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).Read on>

 

Video Campaign

Young adults make up the largest group of smokers in the US, and they are rarely affected by advertisements about death and lung cancer. So, we worked with some colleagues to reach them in a different way. View the video>


ASH Blog

Tobacco Control News

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

 

US Chamber of Commerce: Facing the Wrong Way

“It always seems impossible until it is done,” – Nelson Mandela


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

It is with all of you in mind that we work tirelessly to stop the tobacco industry and to create a tobacco-free world. Our efforts to educate, advocate, and support treaty negotiations result in tobacco control measures being included in laws at the state and national levels, in international trade agreements, and in global health and economic development goals.

Please help us strengthen our fight by making a donation today.

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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