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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. 

Findings:

The Tobacco Industry Targets Youth

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

The Tobacco Industry Manipulated Nicotine to increase addictiveness

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

The Tobacco Industry Lied to the Public

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

Ten Years Later:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The question however is for whom is the system working?

Read on>

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WHO Resources on NCDs

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

Resources for governments and organizations can be found here>

Resources for the general population can be found here>

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

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No Safe Use of Tobacco

Tasmania, an Australian island off the Southern coast, is considering an historic step for tobacco control. The Legislative Council is currently considering a proposal called Tobacco Free Generation (TFG), which would increase the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products every year, eventually phasing out the sale of tobacco products for any person born after the year 2000. It would affect only the sale of tobacco – there would be no penalties for smokers or for smoking. Tasmania tall

As Mr. Neil Francey of Northeastern University said, TFG would “eliminate from the marketplace a product that would never have been permitted in any civilized country had the authorities understood its addictive and lethal nature.” Read the proposal here>.

Of course, the tobacco industry has come out in force against this proposal. The Australian Retailers Association made a submission opposing Tobacco Free Generation that argued that “In principle, the retail sector fully supports a properly regulated system ensuring safe use of this product, allowing the legal sale by retailers to undertake harm reduction through education and restriction of sales to minors.”

There is an irreconcilable flaw in their argument; no amount of tobacco use is safe. No amount of regulation can ensure the safe use of tobacco, because tobacco is an inherently unsafe product. The Tobacco Free Generation proposal seeks to remedy that by phasing out all tobacco use.

Another group, the Alliance of Australian retailers, a tobacco industry front organization, also made a submission in opposition of the amendment. The group argues that TFG will “do nothing for public health” and parrots industry arguments that the law will negatively and unfairly impact small, local tobacco retailers.

While TFG has not yet been implemented anywhere in the world, there are evidence-based measures to show that increasing the minimum legal age does have an impact on public health. Needham, MA was the first U.S. locality to raise the minimum legal purchase age to 21. In the 4 years that followed, there was “a 47% reduction in the Needham high-school smoking rate.” Also of note, no tobacco retailers went out of business in Needham in the 4 years after the implementation of the law. Read more here>. Needham’s neighbor, Brookline, is considering the TFG concept.

Back in Tasmania, there were also submissions about the amendment by a number of public health groups, including ASH, legal experts, and ethicists, many of whom point out that there are no legal or ethical barriers to implementing Tobacco Free Generation, and they call on Tasmania to do so. Read more here>.

The Tasmania Legislative Committee has returned the Tobacco Free Generation bill to the Legislative Council with no serious objections, so it is now in the Council’s hands. Tasmania may be the first in the world to take this monumental step towards ending the tobacco epidemic.

Check back soon – ASH will continue to post updates on the status of Tasmania’s TFG amendment.

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Joint Letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations

Appropriations_Letter_CDC-OSH_Page_1 Appropriations_Letter_CDC-OSH_Page_2 Appropriations_Letter_CDC-OSH_Page_3

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Uruguay Wins Its Tobacco Case Against Philip Morris International

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Megan Arendt

Office: 202-659-4310

Email: arendtm@ash.org

STATEMENT BY LAURENT HUBER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ACTION ON SMOKING AND HEALTH

Uruguay Wins Its Tobacco Case Against Philip Morris International

But PMI Accomplished Its Primary Goal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 8, 2016 – After more than six years, this morning an arbitration panel ruled against Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM) in its case against the government of Uruguay over tobacco packaging laws. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) salutes President Tabaré Vázquez for prioritizing the health of his people and standing up to the bullying tactics of the tobacco industry.

This is a moment to celebrate, but also a moment for sober reflection. PMI will no doubt shed some public crocodile tears, but their main goal in launching the suit has been realized – six years and millions of dollars have been spent defending a nondiscriminatory law that was intended purely to protect public health. This has already resulted in “regulatory chill” in other countries, preventing tobacco legislation that would have saved lives.

PMI launched the case in 2010 in response to Uruguay’s move to require large graphic health warnings and limit the number of individual brand variants under a clause in the Uruguay-Switzerland bilateral investment treaty (BIT) that allows corporations to directly sue governments. The arbitration took place under the auspices of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) rather than a court in Uruguay or Switzerland. The clause allowing this, called investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), is now common in trade agreements. This is not the first time the tobacco industry has used ISDS to intimidate governments, and it will not be the last.

The global community needs to look in the mirror and ask itself – why do we give tobacco multinationals special rules and special courts to sue governments?

The argument in favor of ISDS is already thin. In theory, it bolsters the confidence of investors that they will have meaningful legal recourse if their investments are expropriated or damaged, thus increasing foreign direct investment (FDI), especially in developing countries. In practice, the correlation between ISDS and FDI flows is mixed at best. And for tobacco, ISDS makes no sense at all.

The purpose of free trade is to increase material wealth – to lower prices, which boosts consumption, which boosts production, which boosts jobs. All of these goals are laudable, but all of these goals are antithetical to what the world is trying to accomplish with tobacco. Countries all around the world adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which call on reductions in tobacco use. It is time to exempt tobacco from the benefits of global trade rules.

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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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Age to buy tobacco in Chicago increasing to 21 this week

CHICAGO (AP) — The minimum age in Chicago for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products goes up to 21 at the end of the week.

The city on Friday joins about 170 local jurisdictions around the country that have made the change, including New York City and Boston. Health advocates have pushed the policy to discourage teenagers from starting a harmful habit.

Hawaii and California have raised the tobacco purchase age to 21 statewide. Illinois lawmakers are considering a similar measure.

Read on>

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Imperial Tobacco’s Global Director of Corporate Affairs on Plain Packaging

Listen to the radio segment here>

Watch a different news segment with the same Imperial Tobacco employee here>

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Bill to raise legal smoking age to 21 in Guam passes

Guam lawmakers Friday passed legislation aimed at curbing the island’s rate of tobacco users by increasing the minimum age to purchase tobacco-related products, and electronic cigarettes, to 21.

Read more>

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Action Review: 2nd Quarter 2016

ARJust Released: ASH Annual Report 2015

“In the nearly 50 years since ASH started taking action, 2015 stands out as one of our most successful. I truly believe that we have turned a corner, and that victory, for the first time, may be in sight.”

Laurent Huber

ASH Executive Director

Read the report here>


ASH Blog

A Dangerously Good Year For TobaccoTobacco Profits

Why Don’t Smokers Quit?

Earth Day 2016


Tobacco Control News

Tobacco Firms Lose UK Court Challenge Over Plain Tobacco Packaging

Dutch Lawyer Starts Criminal Case Against Tobacco Firms

New Sweeping Federal Rules Bar E-Cigarette Sales to Teens Younger Than 18

Justices Turn Down Philip Morris Appeal of $25Million Judgement


We agree with Dr. Margaret Chan’s (WHO Director-General) recent statement that it’s time to put Big Tobacco “out of business.” It’s time to value health over profits. And it’s time to build a better world for future generations.

Stand with ASH by making a donation today! And remember, we have a matching campaign running the month of June. So all donations made this month (up to $2,000) will be MATCHED.

Donate Now

 

 

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A growing gulf in the terrain of tobacco control

The theme for World No Tobacco Day on May 31, an annual initiative of WHO and the Secretariat of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), is plain packaging of tobacco products. Plain packaging prohibits the use of logos, colours, and promotional labelling on cigarettes and hand-rolled tobacco and gives graphic health warnings more prominence. In the FCTC, the legally binding international treaty to curb tobacco use signed by 180 nations, a ban on branded cigarette packaging is considered a key demand reduction strategy.

read more>

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Can Poor Countries Combat Big Tobacco Too?

This year for World No Tobacco Day on May 31 the World Health Organization has recommended that countries adopt plain packaging as a way to reduce tobacco use, however so far mostly only rich countries have been able to afford to implement the changes.

read more>

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World No Tobacco Day: Taking Steps to Save Lives

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ASH Statement of Support for Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA)

ASH Statement of Support for Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA)

 

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is a Washington, DC based non-governmental organization fully devoted to supporting global health and international tobacco control efforts. As the oldest anti-tobacco organization in the U.S., ASH was formed in 1967 in response to the U.S. Surgeon General Report in order to use legal action to fight tobacco and protect non-smokers. Because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, today ASH uses global tools to counter the global tobacco epidemic.

American think-tank, the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) has written to SEATCA a tobacco control NGO in Thailand, a letter riddled with false accusations.

ASH stands firmly with SEATCA in its reaction to the petty attack from the International Tax and Investment Center. Through its efforts to end the tobacco epidemic, SEATCA has no doubt saved many lives, and ASH has been proud to work alongside them on many issues. While SEATCA works to save lives, the tobacco industry continues to profit from a product that it knows – indeed engineered – to be deadly when used as directed.

The rationale for ITIC’s attack is obvious. As SEATCA points out, there is an irreconcilable conflict of interest between health and the tobacco industry, and ITIC is demonstrably part of the tobacco industry. The only conclusion we can draw is that SEATCA is worryingly – from ITIC’s perspective – effective in its mission. Over its nearly 50 year history ASH has been attacked by the tobacco industry multiple times, and is proud of each instance. We hope SEATCA takes some pride in this attack.

Multinational tobacco companies have known for decades their status as pariahs, and have long used front groups like ITIC to do their public outreach. Their facade is thin and unconvincing.

Dr. Johns should be ashamed for his role in perpetuating disease and death. Dr. Johns’ attacks on the World Health Organization and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are equally ludicrous. The global response to the tobacco epidemic has saved tens of millions of lives, and promises to save perhaps a billion more. One cannot measure that success against the profits of corporations that deal in addiction and death.

ASH congratulates SEATCA on this clear indication of its effectiveness, and is proud to count SEATCA among its friends and allies.

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Tony Gwynn’s Family Sues Tobacco Industry, Seeking Recourse Over Fatal Habit

The family of Tony Gwynn, a baseball Hall of Famer who died of salivary gland cancer in 2014, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Monday against the tobacco industry, charging that Gwynn had been manipulated into the addiction to smokeless tobacco that ultimately killed him.

Read more>

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Insurer AXA to pull out of tobacco investments

French insurer AXA plans to stop investing in the tobacco industry, citing the impact of smoking on public health, and said it plans to sell its 1.8 billion euros ($2.02 billion) of assets in the sector.

AXA said it would divest its 200 million euros of equity holdings in tobacco companies immediately. It plans to stop all new investments in tobacco industry corporate bonds and to run off its existing holdings worth about 1.6 billion euros.

“With this divestment from tobacco, we are doing our share to support the efforts of governments around the world,” incoming AXA Chief Executive Thomas Buberl said in a statement on Monday.

Read more>

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June 2016: Matching Campaign

Help ASH participate in the 7th round of the tobacco treaty negotiations in India this November. Every donation made from June 1 – 30, 2016 will be matched by a private donor, up to $2,000.

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Building on our policy successes at the preceding 6 global negotiation sessions for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), ASH staff will champion several measures to better implement the treaty and to hold governments accountable to implement its life-saving measures. COP6 room cropped

DSC_0388  DSC_0339

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Action Review: 1st Quarter Edition 2016

BAT PETITIONBAT

Thank you all for your support of our joint petition in January. This week, ASH joined allies (Corporate Accountability International, Public Citizen, & International Labor Rights Forum) to deliver 45,091 petition signatures to the U.S. Department of Justice, calling on DOJ to open an investigation on British American Tobacco (BAT)’s alleged corruption in East Africa.

ASH Blog

BLog
National Nutrition Month


How Tobacco Companies Factor Into The Presidential Primaries


The tobacco industry has been using nicotine addiction to their advantage since the beginning. And we need YOUR help to stop them.

Together, we can build a healthier world for you and your loved ones. You can support the fight by making a generous donation TODAY and please consider becoming a monthly supporter.

 

Donate Now

Upcoming ASH Event

Hearing Invite
Hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to address the impact of the tobacco epidemic on human rights. Learn more here> and watch the livestream on April 5th at 10:15am Eastern here>


Related News

Expert Perspectives on Tobacco Product Waste


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


Big Tobacco Takes a Hit on the Chin in Chicago


Manhattan Co-op Resident Wins $120K in Lawsuit Over Secondhand Smoke Infiltration


Video: Do Movies Cause Kids to Smoke?

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Tobacco Firms Lose Court Challenge Over Packaging

The tobacco industry lost its High Court challenge to the UK government’s regulations on standardised “plain” cigarette packaging.

Read more>

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Justices turn down Philip Morris appeal of $25M judgment

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has rejected Philip Morris USA’s appeal of a $25 million punitive damages award to the family of a dead smoker in Oregon.

The justices on Monday are leaving in place a state appeals court ruling that likened the cigarette maker’s role in smoker Michelle Schwarz’s death to manslaughter under Oregon law, had the case been pursued in criminal court.

Read more>

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Cancer Council chief calls for a smoke free future

Cancer Council fully supports proposals to ban smoking in the presence of children, and has asked whether it’s time to actively consider a generational phase-out of cigarettes.

Read more>

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We Agree: Put Big Tobacco out of business

The embattled tobacco industry is struggling to fight off one of its fiercest and possibly most dangerous foes to date: the World Health Organization.

The Hong Kong native who has run the U.N. body for the past decade, Margaret Chan, takes evident pride in being called Big Tobacco’s public enemy No. 1, saying that her goal is to “make sure that the tobacco industry goes out of business.”

Read on>

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New, sweeping federal rules bar e-cigarette sales to teens younger than 18

The Obama administration on Thursday announced controversial new rules for electronic cigarettes, cigars, hookahs and pipe tobacco, including barring the sales of the products to teens under 18 years old.

The new requirements, which go into effect in 90 days, mark the first time the Food and Drug Administration has regulated any of the items.

The rules compel retailers to verify the age of purchasers by photo identification and bar sales of the products in vending machines that are accessible to minors. They also ban the distribution of free samples.

Read more>

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Dutch lawyer starts criminal case against tobacco firms

A Dutch lawyer and lung cancer patient are planning to take tobacco companies to court for for producing cigarettes designed to turn people into addicts as quickly as possible.

Lawyer Benedicte Ficq and cancer victim Anne Marie van Veen are putting together a criminal case against cigarette producers, arguing that out of court settlements do not go far enough.

‘I want to see tobacco firms prosecuted for deliberately damaging people’s health,’ Ficq told television programme RTL Late Night.

Tobacco firms cannot hide behind the freedom of choice of people to smoke because they are deliberately influencing smokers’ behaviour, Ficq and Van Veen argue.

Read more>

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Earth Day 2016

The harmful impacts of smoking go well beyond each individual smoker. Cigarettes have a negative impact on the environment throughout their entire life cycle – from Earth Day 2016growing the tobacco to disposing of the butts. ASH blogs have highlighted several of the environmental harms of tobacco, including cigarette butt pollution. In honor of Earth Day 2016, we are highlighting the devastating effects that tobacco farming, curing, and manufacturing have on the environment.

Pesticides and fertilizers

Tobacco is a difficult plant to grow, and therefore growers rely on pesticides to protect the plants from insects and disease, and they rely on large amounts of inorganic fertilizers. Some tobacco crops receive up to sixteen applications of chemicals. These chemicals harm birds and other small animals, decrease soil fertility, and in some cases, cause ozone depletion. Tobacco workers, who are unfortunately often children, are also exposed to these toxic chemicals. The chemicals leach into the soil and watercourses, contaminating drinking supplies and food chains.

According to the General Accounting Office, every year an estimated 27 million pounds of pesticides are sprayed onto tobacco fields in the United States, and tobacco ranks sixth among all agriculture in the amount of pesticides applied per acre. Read more here>.

Deforestation

In many developing countries, wood is burned to cure tobacco leaves (in order to dry the leaves before they are transported) and to construct curing barns. An estimated 200,000 hectares of forests and woodlands are cut down each year because of tobacco farming – 5% of global deforestation. This has been a problem particularly in Africa, where tobacco is often cured by smoke. The country of Malawi devotes more than 5% of its farming land to tobacco, and its deforestation rate is the fourth fastest in the world. Read more here>.

Pollution from manufacturing and packaging

The manufacturing of tobacco products also produces an immense amount of waste. In 1995, the global tobacco industry produced an estimated 2.3 billion kilograms of manufacturing waste and 209 million kilograms of chemical waste.

According to one expert, in the United States alone, “eliminating [the production of] cigarettes would yield carbon savings equivalent to raising the fuel efficiency of all cars and trucks by several miles per gallon-or to converting the entire electrical grid of a state like Massachusetts to solar power.” Read more here>.

Over the past century, ten trillion packs of cigarettes have been smoked. As each empty pack weighs about five grams, that adds up to about 110 billion pounds of packaging waste-including paper, ink, cellophane, foil, and glue. This does not include the enormous amount of litter caused by cigarette butts, which are not bio-degradable. Read more here> or read ASH’s blog about cigarette butt pollution here>.

The bottom line? Tobacco is bad for your body and bad for the environment.

This Earth Day, help inform others about the unforeseen environmental harms of tobacco by sharing this blog. Engage with us on twitter (@ASHorg) or Facebook to continue the discussion using #EarthDay

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