Federal tobacco control is at risk in the US

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.

Read on>

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World Cancer Day 2017

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.

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IASLC Statement on Philip Morris’ New Manifesto Highlights the Importance of Tobacco Control

On February 1, 2017, the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) issued the following statement:

“According to its own public reports, in 2016 Phillip Morris manufactured 800 billion cigarettes. Thus, [IASLC] views with some skepticism Philip Morris’ recent statement committing to the design of a smoke-free future (January 25, 2017: Philip Morris International Looks Toward a Smoke-Free Future). While the idea of a ‘smoke-free future’ is something our association of over 5,000 lung cancer specialists worldwide endorses, the statement from Philip Morris notes that the proposed alternatives to tobacco cigarettes are only ‘potentially less harmful’ and makes no concrete commitment to immediate reduction in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of tobacco cigarettes worldwide.

Read on>

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Monograph: The Economics of Tobacco & Tobacco Contol

This collaborative analysis from the National Cancer Institute and the World Health Organization is the result of several years’ work from noted experts in economics, public health and law. It is the most detailed look yet at the economic harm caused by tobacco use.

ASH Deputy Director Chris Bostic was honored to be one of the legal reviewers of the monograph.

Read full Monograph here>

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Tobacco to be Hidden from Plain Sight in Netherlands Shops

The Dutch government is working on a legislative proposal to ban the visible display of tobacco products, State Secretary Martin van Rijn of Public Health informed parliament, ANP reports.

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What’s next in 2017

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.donate-double

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.


Laurent Huber

Executive Director, ASH

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FRR Excludes the Tobacco Sector

The Supervisory Board of the Fonds de Réserve pour les Retraites (FRR) adopted the Executive Board’s proposal to exclude from its portfolio investments in equities or bonds of tobacco producing companies.

“The FRR also believes that progress will not be achieved by dialogue with these companies, because the whole purpose of engagement would be to demand that they should stop their activities altogether. For this reason, FRR has decided to exclude the tobacco industry from its portfolio.”

Read full statement here>

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Statement from ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber on a Tobacco-Free World

imagine-a-worldThat’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.

tclip-criminalASH 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.

hearingWe’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.

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Action Review: 4th Quarter 2016

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber at HHS

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber at HHS

Statement from ASH on E-Cigarettes Following the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report


U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released a new report on December 8, 2016, presenting research and policy recommendations on electronic cigarettes and their use among adolescents and young adults.

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,” stated Laurent Huber, Executive Director of ASH.

Read more>>




Environmental Webinar Recap 

U.S. Campaign Contributions 2016 

RJ Reynolds Can’t Make Up Its Mind 

Protecting Our Health Gains 





Tobacco Control News



CDC: Cigarette Smoking at Lowest Ever Rate, Still Main Cancer Cause

Effects of Secondhand (and third-hand) Smoke on Pets

New Rule on Smokefree Public Housing from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Smoking leaves 150 mutations in every lung cell 

ASH thrives on innovative ideas and projects that will bring about the end of tobacco. Specifically, our one-of-a-kind tobacco criminal liability project seeks to hold tobacco executives criminally responsible for the deaths they cause.

With your donation today, we can continue our unique programs which work toward not just controlling, but eliminating tobacco.

All donations made in 2016 will be DOUBLED by private donors, up to $50,000. Your tax-deductible contribution will push us closer to a tobacco-free world.

           and try

You shop. Amazon gives.

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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.


U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy speaking at HHS

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.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber at HHS

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber at HHS

“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 (ASH) is the nation’s oldest anti-tobacco organization dedicated to health for all. ASH was formed in 1967 in response to the U.S. Surgeon General Report in order to use legal action to fight tobacco and protect nonsmokers. Today, because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, ASH uses global tools to counter the global tobacco epidemic. Learn more about our programs at

Follow us on Twitter @ASHOrg and Facebook

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Human Rights Day 2016

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. human-rights

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.

(L-R) Oscar A. Cabrera, Verónica Schoj, Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Chris Bostic, Belén Rios. Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

(L-R) Oscar A. Cabrera, Verónica Schoj, Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Chris Bostic, Belén Rios.
Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

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>

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We must protect our health gains

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?


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What if Tobacco Vanished?

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 environ

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 fb-1

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.


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New HUD Rule on Smokefree Public Housing


Read their announcement here>

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ASH Releases Video to Showcase a New Ending to the Tobacco Story


Contact: Megan Arendt

Office: 202-659-4310


ASH Releases Video to Showcase a New Ending to the Tobacco Story

The World We Need

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 17, 2016 – One person dies every six seconds from a tobacco-related disease. We have the power to change that, to save those friends and family members from vanishing out of our lives. Instead of losing people, we should make tobacco products vanish.

Watch the latest video from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) which depicts our current reality of losing friends and family members to tobacco-related diseases. The video then changes to show an alternative; a future we can build where tobacco products vanish instead of loved ones. ash-vanish-poster-2

Tobacco products are the only consumer products that kill when used exactly as their manufacturers intend. They don’t require overuse or misuse, which makes their availability and existence a public health epidemic.

Building a truly tobacco-free world is completely possibly with progressive policy changes. Across the U.S., cities and states have begun increasing the age to purchase tobacco products to 21, including ASH’s hometown of Washington, DC. This is a major step toward protecting vulnerable populations and our youth from becoming addicted to nicotine, a substance more addictive than alcohol, heroin, or cocaine.

Raising the age to purchase tobacco products is an important step. However, there is much more to be done. We need to increase tobacco taxes, implement better warning labels, increase public education around tobacco, and hold the tobacco industry accountable.

“For 50 years, ASH has sought to end the worldwide damage, disease, and death caused by tobacco products. We’ve fought to remove cigarette commercials on TV and radio, for smoke-free air ordinances, for a strong international tobacco control treaty, and for global targets to reduce tobacco use as a part of global development initiatives. But the best way to reduce and end tobacco’s damage on our society would be for tobacco products themselves to vanish,” said Laurent Huber, Executive Director of ASH.

ASH’s video illustrates that tobacco is still a major public health threat. We have won some battles but not the war. With dedication to proven best practices, we can achieve a healthy and tobacco free world.

View the video here>


A special thank you to David’s Natural Market in MD for the filming space, along with Carlton Colby Designs, Raquel Zuniga, Tyler Bruce, Margaret Ristaino, Nicolas Mackall, Brooks Eure, Marcus Burnette, and Peter Broomfield.



Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is the nation’s oldest anti-tobacco organization dedicated to health for all. ASH was formed in 1967 in response to the U.S. Surgeon General Report in order to use legal action to fight tobacco and protect nonsmokers. Today, because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, ASH uses global tools to counter the global tobacco epidemic. Learn more about our programs at

Follow us on Twitter @ASHOrg and Facebook

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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.

Read our Press Release here>

Download graphics here>


Source of global statistic used: World Health Organization

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RJ Reynolds Can’t Make Up Its Mind

In California, RJ Reynolds is spending millions to prevent a new tax on cigarettes. But in Missouri, RJ Reynolds is spending millions to promote a new tax on cigarettes. Tobacco taxes are proven to prevent kids from smoking and to increase the number of adults who quit. Big Tobacco has spent lots of money over the years trying to defeat new taxes, so why are they flip-flopping in Missouri? rj-reynolds


In Missouri, RJ Reynolds is supporting a tax increase on tobacco. Missouri currently has the lowest state tax in the country on cigarettes; just $.17. RJ Reynolds is spending almost $3 million to support the Missouri increase- which would result in an increase of just $.15 a year for four years. Even after the four year increase occurs, the tax would be $.77, putting Missouri in 39th place for US tobacco state taxes. This increase is so small that unfortunately it won’t do much to curb smoking- which is exactly why Reynolds American is supporting it and jumping at the chance to appear in favor of public health measures.

There is another reason why RJ Reynolds is supporting the proposal. In Missouri, off-brand cigarette companies, which offer cheaper products than RJ Reynolds, have about 25% of the market share. The proposition calls for a $.67 “equity fee” for those companies, on top of the state-wide $.60 increase. This proposal costs RJ Reynolds’ competition more than double what it will cost them and may run some of their competitors out of business, while RJ Reynolds isn’t likely to lose many customers.  Even more importantly, Big Tobacco likely thinks that a small tax increase now forestalls a bigger one later. This small gesture now could prevent a large, effective increase later. But what’s happening elsewhere in the country?


Big Tobacco has spent over $55 million to defeat Proposition 56, an initiative that would raise the state cigarette tax by $2 a pack. California’s current tax is $.87, but this increase would make the statewide tax $2.87, moving California’s tax into the top 10 highest state cigarette taxes, but still far from worldwide highs of cigarette pack prices, such as in Australia ($16 a pack), Norway ($12.59), and Singapore ($9.32).

Big Tobacco justifies the difference in strategies between states by implying that this proposition will take money away from schools and give it to insurance companies. While this isn’t true, unfortunately support for the tax increase has dropped since RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris started issuing ads to support their message. Public health advocates are fighting hard to counter these misconceptions, but they are being dramatically outspent by Big Tobacco.

Around the country

Tobacco tax increases are also on the table in Colorado (an increase of $1.75 a pack) and North Dakota (an increase of $1.76 a pack). Big Tobacco is pumping money into those states to defeat those measures as well; only the business opportunity in Missouri has won their suspicious stamp of approval

Not surprisingly, Big Tobacco has not truly changed their tune when it comes to tobacco taxes. Despite the fact that these taxes are proven to prevent smoking initiation, increase cessation, and therefore save lives, Big Tobacco is only interested in supporting taxes when there is profit waiting for them. Hopefully, despite the extraordinary measures taken by Big Tobacco, effective tax increases will pass this November and therefore protect Americans from deadly tobacco products.

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U.S. Campaign Contributions 2016

The tobacco epidemic is a huge public health problem. Almost 600,000 Americans die every year from tobacco related diseases. This death and disease is perpetrated by the tobacco industry, in exchange for profits. Unfortunately, the tobacco industry uses its profits to buy access to government officials and to buy influence over laws. 

In the 2016 election cycle, the tobacco industry has contributed over $2.5 million to incumbent representatives for their re-election campaigns.  The majority of this money comes from three major tobacco companies; Altria Group ($1.7 million), Reynolds American ($456,000) and Lorillard Tobacco ($356,000).

This is a problem in almost every state: 49 states have candidates who have accepted campaign funds from the tobacco industry. Only Vermont and Washington D.C. have complete delegations that haven’t accepted any money from Big Tobacco.

This is a problem for both parties. Candidates on both sides of the aisle accept campaign funds from the tobacco industry.

This is a problem in the House, the Senate, and the White House. The top ten candidates that accepted the most money in the U.S. House Representatives received a combined total of over $312,000. The top ten in the Senate accepted just under $800,000. Presidential candidates accepted just under $90,000.

top-20-campaign-contributions-2016Unfortunately, campaign contributions are a problem that seems to be getting worse. In the 2014 election cycle, Big Tobacco contributed $2.3 million to candidates. In 2012, the last presidential election year, the contributions were $2.1 million. While this is far from the peak of campaign contributions in the mid-1990s, it is troubling that the contributions are once again rising. Industries that threaten public health should not control public health policy by holding sway over our elected officials.

Check the ASH Tobacco Campaign Contribution Map to see how much your representative has received from tobacco corporations in the 2016 election cycle.



Not sure who your representative is? Find out here>

If your representatives HAVE taken tobacco money, you can write, call, or tweet them to explain why it’s important that they stop!



**This information is accurate as of October 15, 2016. Our data comes from the fantastic work done by the Center for Responsive Politics and is checked against the Federal Election Commission.**

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ASH Environmental Webinar Recap

When we think of tobacco, a lot of health issues immediately spring to mind – lung cancer, throat cancer, cardiovascular disease, tooth decay, asthma. But tobacco products also wreak havoc on our environment, a problem that is often overlooked. enviro-blog

Tobacco is harmful to the environment throughout the product cycle – all the way from acquiring the materials to post-consumer waste. Tobacco farming, manufacture, industry waste, transport, use, and post-consumer waste all have a negative impact on the environment; all for a product that is deadly and has no benefit to society.

Some of the many harms in the life cycle of tobacco include:

• 5% of global deforestation is due to tobacco farming- 900,000 acres a year

• Tobacco growing is dependent on chemical inputs like fertilizer and pesticide, which causes soil degradation and water pollution, and can have negative health impacts on laborers.

• Over a million pounds of toxic chemicals were released by tobacco product manufacturing facilities in a single year. The top five chemicals released were ammonia, nicotine, hydrochloric acid, methanol, and nitrate compounds.

• Smokers litter cigarette butts rather than disposing of them properly 65% of the time, which results in approximately 845,000 tons (1.69 BILLION pounds) of cigarette butts as toxic trash each year.

There are numerous policy options that can be considered to combat the negative impact of tobacco on the environment.

Implement best practice policies from the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)

The global tobacco treaty includes an Article (number 18) which addresses tobacco and the environment. Parties are bound to have “due regard” for the environment in their tobacco control policies. This Article has largely been ignored by the Parties, but should be brought to the forefront of the tobacco control discussion going forward.

Extended Producer Responsibility

These programs would require tobacco corporations to monitor their environmental impact, reduce waste, recycle and cleanup any waste. They could also require tobacco corporations to reimburse local communities for cleanup costs associated with post-consumer waste.

Product regulation

Countries, states or localities can pass laws that can help. For example, jurisdictions have considered legislation that bans filters, as well as taxes on cigarette butts.

Finally, a key step is public education. Many people – smokers, tobacco control advocates and the general public alike – don’t consider the environmental impact of tobacco. But with public education, many of these people could become passionate allies. Together, we can shine a light on this issue and protect our world from the toxic and hazardous impacts of tobacco.

See the webinar here>

Are you interested in this program? Read more about our next steps, and please consider donating at CrowdRise>

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Action Review: 3rd Quarter 2016



Uruguay’s Victory Over Philip Morris Will Change the World


After more than six years of litigation, the International Centre for Investment Disputes found against Philip Morris International (PMI) in its suit against the government of Uruguay over rules on tobacco packaging. Uruguay, a developing country whose GDP is dwarfed by PMI revenues, refused to back down, insisting that the health of its citizens takes precedence over corporate profits. Read on>

ASH Blog

• 10th Anniversary Landmark RICO Ruling

• No Safe Use of Tobacco

• Thinking about Nutrition? Don’t forget tobacco

• The Tobacco Industry Finds Common Ground with 19th Century Slave Owners

ASH News

• ASH Campaign Case Study to assist individuals working to raise the purchase age for tobacco products to 21.hearing

• Does Tobacco Violate Human Rights? ASH testified before a regional commission arguing it does.

• ASH Press Release following Uruguay’s legal victory against Philip Morris International.

• A Development Challenge the World Can Overcome.

The Tobacco Epidemic is Still Raging


While we have seen many successes in public health policy, the tobacco epidemic is still raging, killing around 6 million people each year. The tobacco epidemic is different from other epidemics because it is driven by corporations looking to make a profit from a product that causes death and disease.

If Big Tobacco were a country, it would have a gross domestic product (GDP) of countries like Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, and Venezuela (Read more here).

But together, we can combat their sale of disease and death. We can stop Big Tobacco. Be a part of the solution by making a donation today and reviewing other giving options here.

Donate now

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Tobacco 21: Campaign Case Study

Read the Case Study

This case study is intended as a teaching device for municipalities that are just getting started or have already begun working to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21.


Local Law No. “C” for 2016

A local law of the county of Albany, NY prohibiting the sale of cigarettes, tobacco products, liquid nicotine, or electronic cigarettes to minors and young adults.

Date Passed: May 9,2016                                      

Signed into Law: June 8, 2016


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Is Vaping Bad For You? Is It Safe? Experts Weigh In

Laurent Huber, Executive Director of ASH:

Combustible tobacco products like cigarettes are extremely toxic, killing approximately 6 million people per year.  Given that cigarettes are so ridiculously toxic, vaping has the potential of being less harmful. For a smoker who cannot overcome nicotine addiction, even using approved pharmaceutical and other therapies, vaping is likely to be a better alternative than continuing to smoke cigarettes.

However, the scientific community is only beginning to look into the long term impact of vaping on health and, because there are so many vaping products on the market it is difficult to make a blanket statement about the safety of all vaping devices. Some researchers in the public health arena are concerned about claims that vaping is 95% safer than smoking cigarettes, noting that those claims are educated guesses at best. And while vaping may be safer than using combustibles, this does not imply they are a hundred percent safe.

Read more>

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10th Anniversary of Landmark Ruling

On August 17, 2006, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler issued an historic ruling. Nearly 7 years after the case was first filed, Judge Kessler issued an opinion that found that the tobacco industry had fraudulently and illegally covered up the health hazards of smoking for decades, in violation of the federal anti-racketeering law (RICO). This year marks the 10th anniversary of this lengthy (the full decision is 1,683 pages long) and momentous decision. In honor of the occasion, we have highlighted a few of the most important findings. 


The Tobacco Industry Targets Youth

“The evidence is clear and convincing – and beyond any reasonable doubt – that Defendants have marketed to young people twenty-one and under while consistently, publicly, and falsely, denying they do so.” Paragraph 3296.

The Tobacco Industry Manipulated Nicotine to increase addictiveness

“Every aspect of a cigarette is precisely tailored to ensure that a cigarette smoker can pick up virtually any cigarette on the market and obtain an addictive dose of nicotine.” Paragraph 1368.

The Tobacco Industry Lied to the Public

“Cigarette smoking causes disease, suffering, and death. Despite internal recognition of this fact, Defendants have publicly denied, distorted, and minimized the hazards of smoking for decades.” Paragraph 509.

Ten Years Later:

Despite these and many other important findings, the tobacco industry is still committing many of these actions today. One of the reasons is that the court had limited legal options to force the industry to stop, due to the language of the RICO statute that the case was brought under. In fact, Judge Kessler emphasized that she was disappointed at the lack of remedies available to her.

Furthermore, despite the weight of this decision, some of the Court’s orders still have not been implemented, 10 years later. The tobacco industry initiated several appeals of the decision. The U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. upheld Judge Kessler’s decision, and the United States Supreme court declined to hear the case.

As part of the decision, Judge Kessler ordered that tobacco companies issue “corrective statements” about the health hazards of smoking and second-hand smoke, and their deception. The tobacco companies have appealed again and again, including as recently as this year. As Judge Kessler recently stated, this is “… a waste of precious time, energy, and money for all concerned — and a loss of information for the public.”

This Department of Justice (DOJ) RICO case was a landmark decision for the public health community and society at large. The opinion brought to light the lies that the tobacco industry had been telling for decades, and the remedies attempted to help educate the public about the true harms of smoking and second-hand smoke. However, the tobacco industry, despite being publicly indicted as racketeers, is still up to its old tricks. The DOJ case has had a huge impact; but without tobacco industry interference, it could have saved many more lives these past 10 years.

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Who really won the legal battle between Philip Morris and Uruguay?

The David-Goliath battle between Uruguay and Philip Morris is an iconic case because it so clearly illustrates the way corporations can use international investment treaties to attack regulations made in the public interest.

So does Big Tobacco’s defeat by Uruguay mean that the growing public opposition to these investment treaties is mistaken? The corporate arbitration lawyers that take up many of the cases – and their supportive political allies – are keen to say that it proves the system can work fairly.

The question however is for whom is the system working?

Read on>

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WHO Resources on NCDs

The World Health Organization (WHO) is seeking to better assist progress toward the non-communicable disease (NCD) reduction targets endorsed by governments in order to reduce premature death from the four major NCDs by 25% by 2025. Tobacco is the leading risk factor for NCDs and the tobacco reduction target commits governments to a 30% relative reduction in prevalence of current tobacco use in persons aged 15+ years.

Resources for governments and organizations can be found here>

Resources for the general population can be found here>

The WHO also completed a country profile on the U.S., noting that the U.S. has national response systems in place to address NCD risk factors. However, there is still much work to be done to ensure that the U.S. is fully aligned with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (see ASH’s Report). Because there is also a tobacco use reduction target included in SDGs Goal 3 (i.e. Strengthen the implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in all countries, as appropriate), the U.S. must be mindful to seek compliance with the WHO FCTC when facilitating a tobacco use reduction plan.

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