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Tobacco Companies Ordered to Pay $15B in Damages

Three tobacco companies have been ordered to pay $15 billion in damages after losing a historic court case.

Judge Brian Riordan on Monday ruled in favour of two groups representing Quebec smokers, ordering Imperial Tobacco, Rothmans Benson & Hedges and JTI-MacDonald to pay for punitive and moral damages.

“It’s a big day for victims of tobacco, who have been waiting for about 17 years for this decision. It was a long process — but arrived at the destination and it’s a big victory,” said Mario Bujold, executive director of the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health.

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Thailand Raises Minimum Age to 20 to Purchase Cigarettes

BANGKOK, 28 May 2014 (NNT) – The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the tobacco draft act which prohibits sale of cigarettes to those under 20 years old and raise punishment for offenders.

Deputy Prime Minister YongyutnYuthawong said the draft act increased the minimum legal age for cigarette purchase from 18 to 20 years and prohibited sale of individual cigarettes. The draft act also prohibits cigarette sale in some public places such as temples, public health facilities, schools and public parks, the deputy PM added.

The draft act bans cigarette companies from advertising their products as sponsors of contests and competitions. Cigarette advertising is banned in print and online media, TV and movies.

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#StopMarlboro

Marlboro’s “Be Marlboro” campaign is in the news again – this time because of a copyright claim.

#JeffWeCan Flash Mob in Times Square

#JeffWeCan Flash Mob in Times Square

Since 2011, Philip Morris International (PMI), which owns the Marlboro brand, has been running its “Be Marlboro” campaign in several countries. The ads depict parties, clubs, sports and other images clearly targeted at young people, while telling the audience “Don’t Be A Maybe.” The campaign and the major promotional events associated with it are a desperate attempt by the corporation to prevent PMI’s decreasing sales from continuing to decline.

Recently, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids compiled Marlboro marketing videos and uploaded them, without any editing, to Vimeo, a video sharing website.  The videos were taken down, because Philip Morris claims they are a copyright infringement.  Read more about it here>.

The most recent data shows that the tobacco industry spends more than $1 million a day in the U.S. targeting young adults. In addition to the “Be Marlboro” campaign run in over 60 foreign countries, the industry’s ongoing marketing tactics include using corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a way to market. For example, PMI donates to the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Club, the Kennedy Center, and Ford’s Theatre. See more about tobacco CSR here>. But when organizations try to show how dangerous that marketing can be, Philip Morris uses its lawyers to prevent them from sharing the truth.

ASH changes "Don't be a Maybe" into "Don't be a Target"
ASH changes “Be Marlboro” into “Be Tobacco-Free”

 

ASH, along with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, recently organized a flash mob with Jeff the Diseased Lung, the character created by HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (shown below).

The flash mob, which took place the same day as PMI’s shareholders meeting, was intended to  use fun, dance, and social media to draw attention to PMI’s marketing tactics. It also provided a chance for more than 50 youth and young adult advocates from across the U.S. to make a united, public statement that they won’t be manipulated into using tobacco by PMI’s marketing.

You can watch a video of the flash mob here, or find it on social media using #JeffWeCan and #StopMarlboro:

ASH also produced a video that illustrates how tobacco companies target youth:

Watch John Oliver discuss some of PMI’s other legal tactics and introduce Jeff the Diseased Lung:

 

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Trade Threats to Tobacco Control

ASH releases analysis of trade threats to U.S. domestic tobacco control policies.

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Tobacco Taxes are Front & Center in Influential Post-2015 Report!

The UN’s post-2015 development goal process is still in full swing. Member states have spent the last week discussing ways to finance the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These discussions are all setting the stage for the Financing for Development (Ffd) conference in Addis Ababa this July, where UN member states will finalize their decisions on how to fund the SDGs. SDSN Report

Raising tobacco taxes to fund development work is a win for tobacco control, a win for public health, and a win for development!

Tobacco taxes have been recognized by Jeffrey Sachs (a highly respected economist) and his team from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in their new report on financing sustainable development. The SDSN makes recommendations on various SDG matters.

ASH submitted suggestions to the first draft of this SDSN document in which tobacco taxes were not a major focus. Now, tobacco taxes are included in the paper, front and center. There are several crucial references, demonstrating that tobacco taxes cause a reduction of tobacco consumption, improve overall health, and can be a source of revenue for governments.

Member states will review and consider this document when drafting the final version of the Addis Accord – the resulting outcome of the Financing for Development (Ffd) meeting in Ethiopia this July.

We will continue advocating for the inclusion of tobacco control in the post-2015 UN development agenda which will benefit the entire public health community.

Stay tuned!

The SDSN report is available here>

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Princeton, NJ bans tobacco sales to customers under 21

Princeton has become the fifth New Jersey town to ban tobacco sales to customers under 21.

The town’s health board unanimously adopted the ordinance.

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Earth Day 2015 – The Unforeseen Consequences of Tobacco

Most people view cigarettes as a health problem, but they are a huge environmental problem as well. The entire life cycle of a cigarette has an impact on the environment – from growing the tobacco to throwing away the butt.

Tobacco Farming

Tobacco cultivation is responsible for a myriad of environmental problems, including land and water pollution due to pesticides as well as deforestation.  Tobacco plants are prone to many insect pests, and therefore tobacco farmers are forced to use pesticides to keep the plants healthy.  Not only do tobacco growers often get sick from the pesticides, but the pesticides also leach into the soil and water. 

Image- World Wild Fund for Nature

Image- World Wild Fund for Nature

Tobacco growth and cultivation also causes deforestation. Trees are often cut down to make room for tobacco plants. Once tobacco plants have been harvested, they are “cured.” Sometimes the curing is done by air drying, but often tobacco is cured by burning wood to heat the air, which speeds up the process.

It’s estimated that 600 million trees are cut down every year to produce tobacco products and cigarette-manufacturing machines use up to four miles of paper an hour to roll and package cigarettes.

To read more about tobacco farming click here>

Air Pollution

As mentioned above, tobacco cultivation is a source of air pollution. But cigarettes also have a significant effect on air pollution while they are being smoked. When cigarettes are burned, they create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are poisonous.

A study in Italy found that cigarettes release 10 times as much particulate matter into the air as a diesel engine. Smoke from cigarettes and from tobacco cultivation is contributing to climate change.

It’s well established that second hand smoke is extremely dangerous. It should be considered an environmental problem as well as a public health concern.

To read more about tobacco and air pollution click here> or here>

Butts

In 2009, tobacco products—primarily cigarette butts— comprised nearly 38% of all collected litter items from roadways and streets.  In 2010, over one million (1,181,589) cigarettes or cigarette filters—enough to fill 94,626 packs—were removed from American beaches and inland waterways. Cigarette butts are toxic to animals and children that may swallow them, they pollute groundwater, and they leach chemicals into soil. Compounding this problem is the waste from other items related to smoking such as cigarette packages and lighters or matches.  Cigarette butts and other tobacco-related trash are a massive environmental problem.

To read more about cigarette butts, click here>  or here>

What can you do?

Quit Smoking

– not only is it good for your health, it’s good for the environment!

Become an Advocate

– Communities across the United States are beginning to take action against tobacco waste.  Contact your local, state, or federal officials and voice your opinion on tobacco waste!

Utilize your Network

– help educate your network and the public about the environmental harms of tobacco by sharing this and other information, especially on Twitter or Facebook using this sample message:

This #EarthDay, learn how unforeseen consequences of tobacco can cause so much harm: ash.org/earthday2015 #StandWithHealth @ASHOrg

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Hillary pressed to take on Big Tobacco

Public health groups are urging newly minted Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to follow in her husband’s footsteps and take on Big Tobacco.

The calls for Clinton to make the issue part of her campaign platform take place amid a growing push to raise the national smoking age to 21.

“From a national standpoint, we’d love to see Mrs. Clinton run on a public health platform and specifically a tobacco reform platform,” said Chris Bostic, deputy director for policy at the Action on Smoking & Health.

“I’m not a skilled political analyst, but if you look at the polling numbers it would seem to be a winner. Even smokers don’t want to see their kids, nieces and nephews smoking.”

Read more>

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Use of E-Cigarettes Rises Sharply Among Teenagers, Report Says

E-cigarettes have arrived in the life of the American teenager.

Use of the devices among middle- and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014, according to federal data released on Thursday, bringing the share of high school students who use them to 13 percent — more than smoke traditional cigarettes. The sharp rise, together with a substantial increase in the use of hookah pipes, led to 400,000 additional young people using a tobacco product in 2014, the first increase in years, though researchers pointed out it fell within the margin of error. About a quarter of all high school students and 8 percent of middle school students — 4.6 million young people altogether — used tobacco in some form last year.

The numbers came as a surprise and seemed to pitch policy makers into uncharted territory. The Food and Drug Administration took its first tentative step toward regulating e-cigarettes last year, but the process is slow and many experts worry that habits are forming far faster than rules are being written. Because e-cigarettes are so new, little is known about their long-term health effects, leaving regulators scrambling to gather data.

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Action Review: 1st Quarter Edition 2015

post 2015 YE blogTobacco and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The inclusion of tobacco control in the Sustainable Development Goals has been in the works for several years. It is due to various advocacy efforts of the Framework Convention Alliance and the support of NGO partners and allied missions in New York and at country level. In the early stages of the post-2015 process, support for tobacco control and the FCTC was limited. However, as time went on various synergies formed between member states, other NGOs, and the tobacco control community to achieve this goal.

FCA worked to represent the tobacco control community within the various UN entities in New York. They worked with the NGO major to include tobacco control in their recommendations for the 10th Open Working Group negotiations. There were several champions of tobacco control during the OWG negotiations, including Palau, who relentlessly emphasized the importance of the FCTC as an integral part of sustainable development. In addition, Uruguay strongly supported the inclusion of the FCTC at the World Health Assembly in 2014. Several other countries showed their unwavering support including: Jamaica, Belgium, Australia, Peru, and Costa Rica.

During the civil society hearing for the OWG negotiations, FCA had the opportunity to speak about the importance of the FCTC in the SDGs. The global tobacco control community was determined to promote the FCTC in the SDGs and to be involved in the process as well. This dedication was demonstrated by their participation in various online consultations. The FCA stressed the importance of tobacco control and the FCTC at a side event for civil society and member states, as well as on a panel at the CSW58.

The FCTC was first included in the zero draft for OWG 12 as a target under goal 17 for means of implementation. This target was at risk for being removed by a few countries who felt as though the FCTC was too specific to include. After several countries showed support for the need for the FCTC, it was maintained in the final draft of the OWG proposal. It was also moved to goal 3 (3a), as a means of implementation target under the health goal.

After several years of hard work and advocacy efforts in New York and at country level, the FCTC has been included in the Sustainable Development Goals. This seemed like a far-fetched goal at the beginning of this journey. Fortunately, the goal was attained due to collaboration, persistence, and hard work. Countries must now implement the FCTC in order to achieve comprehensive tobacco control at the national level to reduce morbidity and mortality due to tobacco use.

3Trade

Trade and tobacco issues featured prominently at this year World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH), including a full half-day pre-conference workshop, a tri-plenary and a symposium co-sponsored by ASH. In addition, the risk of trade lawsuits came up in nearly every substantive policy discussion. This is in stark contrast to the 2012 WCTOH in Singapore, at which ASH pushed hard to have a single panel devoted to trade. ASH also worked with allies to achieve the adoption of a strong declaration on trade:

“Going forward governments treat tobacco uniquely in all trade and investment and support one another in excluding tobacco from trade and investment agreements that are under negotiation.”

ASH was also able to advance discussions with European allies over the negotiation of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and will be attending a meeting in Edinburgh in June to formulate strategy.

TCLIP quote 2Criminal Liability

ASH recently attended the World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) where we presented the criminal liability program on two different panels, one organized by ASH, and one that we were invited to join by the Human Rights and Tobacco Control Network. WCTOH has been held every three years since 1967, and is the preeminent gathering of researchers, advocates and government officials on the global tobacco epidemic.

We also hosted a side event, attended by tobacco control experts at the conference to discuss suggestions, concerns and assistance moving forward with the criminal liability program. 8 countries were represented at the side event, as well as several attorneys with long experience litigating against the tobacco industry.

In the closing plenary, in front of over 2,000 attendees from 100 countries, Professor Harry Lando, the chair of the scientific program committee, mentioned criminal liability as a potential path forward. This is a significant step for the program; we passed the “straight face” test and the tobacco control community views criminal liability as a viable option in the tobacco endgame.

 

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Tobacco Free Generation

In Tasmania, Australia last week, a bill was introduced to the Legislative Council that would create a “Tobacco Free Generation.”  You can read the draft text of the bill here>.

The phrase tobacco free generation is used widely and it often has different meanings. Some use it to describe a social movement that encourages young people not to smoke and to get involved in tobacco control efforts. tobacco18

However, “Tobacco Free Generation” is a unique concept that refers to proposed legislation that no one born after a certain date (often 2000) will ever be allowed to purchase tobacco products.

Essentially, the age to buy tobacco products will just keep increasing.

For example, in 2018, no 18 year olds will be able to buy tobacco products, essentially increasing the age to purchase tobacco products to 19. However, in the following year, 2019, 19 year olds will not be able to purchase tobacco products.

This solution allows current smokers to keep buying tobacco products if they so choose, but it will prevent tobacco addiction from spreading to the next generation.

Tasmania is not the only government considering this concept.

The organization TFG Singapore also has a proposal for a law. In addition to the legislation, TFG Singapore is focused on creating a social movement towards a tobacco free generation.  You can see some of their information sheets and videos on their website.

In Tasmania, a vote on the proposed bill has been delayed because the bill was sent to a Legislative Council committee. If the bill does pass, Tasmania would be the first to pass a “Tobacco Free Generation Proposal” and with that, would become a leader in tobacco end-game strategies, not to mention saving the lives of Tasmanians for generations to come.

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Amos Hausner | Smokefree Israel

Hear this interview from Amos Hausner who is involved in the Smokefree kaupapa in Israel.

He’s currently in Aotearoa and spoke with Dale Husband.

Listen here>

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France: MEPs adopt neutral package for cigarettes

The measure, if adopted by the full Parliament, will take effect in May 2016. The ban on smoking in cars in the presence of a minor was also adopted.

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We’re Almost There!

In the past two and half years, ASH has been working to ensure that tobacco control is included in the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals are being created to set countries’ development agendas for the next 15 years.

In the expiring UN Millennium Development Goals, tobacco control and NCDs were left out. And the global tobacco control community felt those repercussions, as there were scarce resources allocated at the national level for tobacco control programs.

We simply could not let this happen again! ASH has been advocating at the UN to guarantee that tobacco control and NCDs will be a development priority for countries this time around.

We are happy to report some good news! 

Last week, the draft SDGs were not edited during the latest round of discussions! Why is that good news? Because, last July, the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development finalized their draft for the new SDGs, and the legally-binding WHO treaty on tobacco control (the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the FCTC) was included! With every round of edits, there is a chance that tobacco control and NCDs will lose their prime location in the future of global development plans.

The OWG’s proposal for the SDGs is the result of nearly two years of global negotiations. Because of the extensive amount of time and effort put into these negotiations by the OWG, UN member states are reluctant to reopen the text, as they fear it may unravel the entire framework. Although it is not completely impossible that the text could be changed, it is very unlikely.

We encourage UN member states to move forward with the current draft of the SDGs, and we encourage the public health and tobacco control communities to start planning and strategizing ways to effectively use the SDGs to advance tobacco control and FCTC implementation in their own countries.

The SDG framework, including the new goals and targets, will be finalized at the UN General Assembly this September in New York.

ASH will continue to monitor the events at the UN and to advocate for the inclusion of tobacco control and NCDs in the SDGs, as well as in the indicator development process and the Financing for Development process, both of which have already mentioned tobacco control in their draft proposals.

Stay tuned!

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PHAI Takes Cigarette Companies to Court

 The Public Health Advocacy Institute (“PHAI”) announced today that its newly formed Center for Public Health Litigation has filed lawsuits against two major tobacco companies and several local distributors on behalf of the families of two former smokers who suffered devastating disease from smoking cigarettes.

“This is the first time a non-profit organization has directly taken on the tobacco industry in court,” said Richard Daynard, University Distinguished Professor at Northeastern University School of Law and the President of PHAI.  “Big Tobacco kills more than 50% of the people who buy its products, and it has for years tried to deny its legal responsibility for this public health calamity. The Center for Public Health Litigation is going to ask the Massachusetts courts to hold the tobacco companies accountable in these two cases, and in more cases to be filed soon.”

Read more>

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Leaked TPP investment chapter shows US tobacco control rules at risk

WASHINGTON — An ambitious 12-nation trade accord pushed by President Obama would allow foreign corporations to sue the United States government for actions that undermine their investment “expectations” and hurt their business, according to a classified document.

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Hollywood and Tobacco: New Spotlight on Smoking At The Movies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 24, 2015

Hollywood and Tobacco: New Spotlight on Smoking At The Movies

Launch of Revamped UCSF Website Ranks Actors, Directors, Top 10 Movies by Their Use of Tobacco 

 

UC San Francisco is launching a revamped Smokefree Movies website that offers the public unusual insight into Hollywood’s role in the global tobacco epidemic, projected to kill one billion people this century.

Updated every week, the site ranks film producers, directors, writers and actors by their on-screen tobacco footprint based on a database of more than 2,000 films released since 2002.

The site currently lists the five “smokiest” actors, directors, and producers since 2002 as:

Actors Directors Producers
Leonardo DiCaprio Martin Scorsese Grant Heslov
J.K. Simmons George Clooney George Clooney
Vince Vaughn Clint Eastwood Scott Rudin
Hugh Jackman Peter Jackson Brian Grazer
Viggo Mortensen Quentin Tarantino Graham King

 

Additionally, the website’s “Now Showing” feature reveals the tobacco content of the top ten movies in theaters and on DVD each week. It also provides information about film companies. For example in the last three years, Time Warner accounted for 22% of all the tobacco impressions in top grossing films. That was the same amount for independent producer-distributors (22%), followed by Sony (17%), Fox (14%), Viacom (Paramount) (11%), Comcast (Universal) (8%), and Disney (6%).

Smoking in movies, encouraged for decades by tobacco company cross-promotions and product placements, leads to thousands of new young smokers every year, according to federal health officials.

“The major media companies and the Hollywood studios they own have known since at least 2002 that smoking in movies causes kids to smoke and eventually die from a long list of tobacco diseases,” says Stanton Glantz, PhD, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, which created the movie website. “By looking at top-grossing movies and putting all the key health information in one place, the website gives everyone from parents and public officials to film critics and Wall Street analysts an inside look at the tobacco choices Hollywood producers are making now.”

The website:

  • Traces the history of commercial collaboration by U.S. tobacco and film industries;
  • Summarizes scientific research in a dozen countries supporting the U.S. Surgeon General’s conclusion that exposure to on-screen smoking causes kids to smoke;
  • Offers evidence-based policy solutions based by the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other leading health authorities;
  • Monitors in real time the progress or failure of specific media companies and their movie studio subsidiaries to safeguard young audiences worldwide by reserving smoking for their R-rated films.

 

U.S public health officials for years have warned that exposure to on-screen smoking causes young people to start smoking. The CDC has decried the movie industry’s failure to protect impressionable young viewers, and in 2012 the Surgeon General reported that because of the onscreen exposure, “6.4 million children alive today will become smokers, and 2 million of these children will die prematurely from diseases caused by smoking.”

A significant number of the movies depicting smoking were rated PG-13, the Surgeon General reported.

“The CDC reports that R-ratings on movies with smoking can prevent a million future tobacco deaths among American kids alone,” Glantz says. “The media company chiefs could easily direct their trade group, the Motion Picture Association of America, to add smoking to the voluntary R-rating standard, alongside the non-lethal content it already rates R. The longer they delay, the more kids worldwide will be addicted to cigarettes by the smoking in the movies Hollywood makes and exports.”

The Smokefree Movies website uses data collected by UCSF partner Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down!, an ongoing project of Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails. Since 1995, more than a thousand volunteers between the ages of 14 and 22 have been trained to analyze tobacco content in all films grossing more than $1 million in the domestic market.

Historical resources for the Smokefree Movies website include the 82 million-page Legacy Tobacco Documents Library housed at UCSF. Other information is gathered from film industry sources. UCSF’s Smoke Free Movies receives foundation support for its policy research and education projects.

For further information visit http://smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu/ and http://www.scenesmoking.org/

UCSF is the nation’s leading university exclusively focused on health. Now celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding as a medical college, UCSF is dedicated to transforming health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with world-renowned programs in the biological sciences, a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and top-tier hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. Please visit www.ucsf.edu.

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Follow UCSF

ucsf.edu | Facebook.com/ucsf | Twitter.com/ucsf | YouTube.com/ucsf

 

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New Global Fund to Help Countries Defend Smoking Laws

Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced on Wednesday that they had started a global fund to help low- and middle-income countries fight legal challenges to their smoking laws by the tobacco industry.

The fund is modest, at least so far, with a total of $4 million from the two charities. But Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and the financial data and news company Bloomberg LP, said in a conference call with reporters that the investment was more like an initial marker, and that it was expected to grow as more donors joined the effort.

“The fact that there is a fund dedicated to taking on the tobacco companies in court sends a message that they are not going to get a free ride,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “If they say that’s not a lot of money — yes, well, take a look at who’s behind it.”

Read more>

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ASH participates in the World Conference on Tobacco or Health 2015

This week, several representatives of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) will be attending the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Abu Dhabi. WCTOH is a five-day scientific conference where presenters highlight the latest developments in tobacco control and the efforts around the world to reduce tobacco use. wctoh 1

This year, the conference theme is “Tobacco and Non-Communicable Diseases.” Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death globally and the one risk factor common to the major non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes.

This theme is particularly relevant to ASH’s work. ASH is a member of the DC-based NCD roundtable, an organization that works to ensure the inclusion of NCD’s in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals.

ASH’s campaign at the United Nations resulted in the inclusion of tobacco control in the draft of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and ASH continues working to ensure that tobacco control remains in the final draft of the SDGs, which will be adopted in September of this year. Read more about ASH’s work with SDG’s here>.

Many other important tobacco control topics will be presented and discussed at WCTOH. In addition to NCDs, ASH will be participating in panel discussions on illicit trade and access to minors, tobacco endgame strategies, civil society involvement, tobacco and trade agreements, liability, and human rights. In particular, ASH Executive Director, Laurent Huber, will be speaking at a plenary session regarding the 10 year anniversary of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

ASH looks forward to a productive week of presentations and discussions with key stakeholders in the field of tobacco control. Follow us throughout the week as we tweet about the conference via @AshOrg, or follow all of the conference activity on twitter with #WCTOH2015.

For those attending WCTOH2015 or planning to watch the live webcast, you can see ASH presentations at the following panels:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Main Plenary 2- Ten Years of the WHO FCTC (Powerpoint Slides)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

No. 07- Innovative Approaches to the Endgame for Tobacco

No. 22- Social Marketing to Change Behavior in Non-Communicable Diseases

No. 29- Can Tobacco Executives Be Held Criminally Liable for the Tobacco-Related Deaths of their Customers?  (Powerpoint for Panel)

Friday, March 20, 2015

No. 36- Integrating Tobacco Control and NCDs in the Sustainable Development Framework

No. 49- Treatment of Tobacco in 21st Century Trade and Investment Rules (Powerpoint for Panel)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Meet the Expert Session- Meet Mr Huber to discuss:  The FCA–using its network to keep tobacco control high on the post-2015 development agenda.

No. 63- Human Rights Based Approach to Tobacco Control

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Resources: Criminal Liability for Tobacco Executives

ASH Resources

Blog: If Drug Dealers Can Be Found Criminally Liable, Can Big Tobacco?

Description: Drug dealers can and have been charged with murder or manslaughter when death results from the drugs they sold. This same logic could apply to Big Tobacco.

Quote:  The inevitable question is then- Do you think that tobacco companies could be held criminally responsible for the tobacco-related deaths of their customers?”

Journal Articles

Corporations that Kill: The Criminal Liability of Tobacco Manufacturers

Description: An overview of the concept and the law behind criminal liability, from an Australian criminal law journal.

Quote: “A reasonable company, upon discovering that its products posed a serious threat of death or injury, would either withdraw those products from sale or would render them safe. Clearly, tobacco manufacturers have taken no such steps and, in fact, continue to promote their products and to manufacture them in ways which make it more likely that people will become addicted to them. In doing so, they pose a high risk of death or grievous bodily harm to the public and a jury may find that such conduct, in the circumstances, merits criminal punishment.”

The death toll from tobacco: a crime against humanity?

Description: A Tobacco Control Journal letter to the editor that discusses the possibility that the deaths caused by tobacco corporations could be considered a crime against humanity and tried in the International Criminal Court

Quote: “Based on current trends, WHO estimates that the death toll from smoking will rise to 10 million people per year by the year 2025. No other consumer product in the history of the world has come even close to inflicting this degree of harm on the world community. If anything else posed a threat to life of this magnitude, whether human induced or naturally occurring—be it world war, genocide or “ethnic cleansing”, natural disaster, or disease—it would demand immediate international action.”

Newspaper Articles

What Penalty for Purveyors of Death?

Description: An L.A. Times article discussing potential criminal liability in the United States.

Quote: “Since more than a quarter of a century of public health warnings, trumped by many billions of dollars more in tobacco marketing, have not slowed the body count, what must a country do? On paper, America values human life over profit.”

Organized Tobacco’s Days Are Numbered

Description: A Jerusalem Post Article in which Amos Hausner, son of Gideon Hausner (who prosecuted Nazi Adolf Eichmann) states discusses the end of tobacco, including potential charges of crimes against humanity.

Quote: “’Today, we are in the midst of an irreversible process that will lead to the termination of organized tobacco,’ he said. ‘The environment will be completely tobacco-free. This is what people all over the world want.’”

Obama impressed with progress in Mujica’s Uruguay

Description: President Obama and President Mujica met to discuss, among other things, tobacco and the ongoing lawsuit between Uruguay and Philip Morris.

Quote: “In the world, eight million people die each year from smoking tobacco,” he said. This is mass murder.”

BP Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter in 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

Description: This L.A. Times article discusses the BP Oil spill case, particularly the charges of corporate manslaughter that resulted from the deaths of several workers. This could be very similar to charges levied against Big Tobacco.

Quote: “The agreement, announced in November, allowed a unit of the London-based oil giant to plead guilty Tuesday to 11 counts of seaman’s manslaughter in connection with the explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the gulf.”

Relevant Case Law

Evans v. Lorillard (465 Mass. 411 (2013))

Description: A wrongful death lawsuit based on breached implied warranty of merchantability due to design defect. The plaintiff, the son of a deceased smoker, won the case.

Quote: “We decline to place addictive chemicals outside the reach of product liability and give them special protection akin to immunity based solely on the strength of their addictive qualities. To do so would eliminate any incentive for cigarette manufacturers to make safer perhaps the most dangerous product lawfully sold in the market through reasonable alternative designs.” [emphasis added]

Williams v. Philip Morris, Inc., 127 P.3d 1165, 1176-77 (2006)

Description: The widow of a smoker who died from lung cancer  sued Philip Morris USA for fraud based on advertisements and sponsored studies that made cigarettes seem less dangerous than they actually were. The widow won the case.

Quote:  “Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, Philip Morris’s actions, under the criminal statutes in place at the beginning of its scheme in 1954, would have constituted manslaughter.  Today, its actions would constitute at least second-degree manslaughter, a Class B felony…Thus, the possibility of severe criminal sanctions, both for any individual who participated and for the corporation generally, put Philip Morris on notice that Oregon would take such conduct very seriously.”

Haglund v. Philip Morris (847 N.E. 2d 315 (2006))

Description:  The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court unanimously rejected the tobacco industry’s argument that a smoker is responsible for their own smoking habits (the “blame the smoker” defense.  In Massachusetts, the personal choice defense is unavailable to the tobacco companies.

Quote: “If Philip Morris chooses to market an inherently dangerous product, it is at the very least perverse to allow the company to escape liability by showing only that its product was used for its ordinary purpose.”

Laws and Definitions

Manslaughter

Description: the definition of manslaughter under the U.S. federal code

Quote: “Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice. Involuntary—in the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to a felony, or in the commission in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection, of a lawful act which might produce death.”

Right to life

Description: the definition of “right to life” is found in several international documents. This definition is from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Quote: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.”

Right to health

Description: the definition of “right to health” is also found in numerous international documents. This quote is part of the definition found in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Quote: “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”

Crimes against Humanity

Description: the definition of “crimes against humanity” is also found in several international documents. This is the description as it applies to the International Criminal Court.

Quote: “Crimes against humanity” include any of the following acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack…murder…other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious bodily or mental injury.”

Misc.

Mock Trial- Australia: lawyers ponder tobacco firms’ criminal liability

Description: Could tobacco companies be held criminally liable for their conduct, even if it were accepted that they have complied fully with all laws relating specifically to tobacco? A mock trial was conducted on this topic by universities in Australia.

Quote:  “Of particular interest were two issues: whether the argument about criminality depends on showing that the industry has acted in ways beyond that covered by tobacco legislation and regulations—such as by engineering the product so as to make it more attractive or more addictive, or failing to offer assistance, such as cessation programmes, to people it has addicted as children; and just how far the line of criminality might run—perhaps through to company directors, advertisers, marketing executives, and lawyers.”

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Plain Packaging for Tobacco Will Become the Global Norm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Megan Arendt

Office: 202-659-4310

Email: arendtm@ash.org

PLAIN PACKAGING FOR TOBACCO WILL BECOME THE GLOBAL NORM

But will the U.S. be last?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 12, 2015 – Yesterday, Britain’s House of Commons overwhelmingly approved a law requiring plain packaging for tobacco products, just one day after Ireland’s president signed into law the same measure. If the House of Lord’s also approves, as it is expected to on Monday, the number of countries requiring plain packaging will have tripled in one week (Australia introduced their law in 2011). Scotland, France, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and New Zealand, among others, are expected to follow suit, and the European Union as a whole is also considering the measure. But, while plain packaging is proven to decrease smoking, don’t expect similar legislation in the United States any time soon.

Plain – or standardized – packaging is a big victory for public health, and a huge blow to Big Tobacco, whose stock prices have tumbled this week. Tobacco kills over 6 million people each year, and the vector of the tobacco epidemic is tobacco industry marketing. As more and more countries have banned all other forms of tobacco advertising, plain packaging removes the last tiny billboard the tobacco industry can use to push its deadly products. Studies in Australia have shown that plain packaging is effective in convincing smokers to quit and keeping youth from starting.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., we are stuck with tiny, side-of-package textual warnings developed in the 1960s and not updated since 1984. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration attempted to introduce graphic warnings in 2011, but they were struck down after tobacco companies sued in federal court. The FDA says they will try again, but almost four years later there has been no progress.

Tobacco stock prices have tumbled this week amid the news from Ireland and England. Philip Morris International (PM) has dropped 4.17%, while R.J. Reynolds (RAI) and Altria (MO) have dropped 6.79% and 5.77%, respectively. UK-based British American Tobacco (BTI) and Imperial (ITYBY) fell over 5%.

Ireland and England are braced for the inevitable lawsuits. Australia successfully defended their plain packaging law in their supreme court but is still mired in international trade lawsuits from Philip Morris International and five countries under World Trade Organization rules. Some of the legal costs for those countries challenging Australia are being paid by tobacco companies, as detailed on HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Japan Tobacco, Imperial, and Philip Morris International have promised to sue Ireland and England, likely both domestically and through trade agreements.

The public health community has called for tobacco to be exempted from trade agreements in order to stop the tobacco industry from being able to launch trade disputes over health regulations. The U.S. is considering the unique treatment of tobacco in the giant Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, but politicians from tobacco-growing states are demanding that tobacco companies retain the right to sue governments to block public health legislation.

As more countries implement plain packaging as well as tobacco exemptions in trade agreements, the world will be able to reverse the tobacco epidemic and reduce the estimated 1 billion tobacco-related deaths this century.

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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.

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Breaking News: MPs back standardised cigarette packaging

MPs have voted in favour of introducing standardised packaging for cigarettes in the UK.

It means from 2016 every packet will look the same except for the make and brand name, with graphic photos accompanying health warnings if the House of Lords also approves the move.

The Irish Republic passed a similar law earlier this month and Australia has had plain packaging since 2012.

Read more>

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Last Week Tonight: Irish Plain Packaging Cigarettes

John Oliver of HBO’s Last Week Tonight continued his original episode on the tobacco industry with this response.

Watch here>

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Temporary injunction bars man from lighting up inside his Washington home after neighbors sue

A temporary order by a Superior Court judge is keeping a man from smoking inside his home in the District of Columbia.

WJLA-TV (http://bit.ly/1BrlPLl ) reports that Edwin Gray’s next door neighbors in northeast Washington have filed a civil suit claiming they’re being harmed by smoke that sneaks into their home through a hole in the basement. They are seeking an injunction and $500,000 in damages.

Read more>

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Corrective Ads Still Missing

**UPDATE**- On Friday, May 22, a federal appeals court issued a split ruling about what statements tobacco companies must make in product warnings. The three judge panel said that tobacco companies can be required to say they “intentionally designed cigarettes to sustain addiction” but can’t be required to say that they “deliberately deceived the public about the dangers of smoking.” This ruling could further delay the public release of the warning statements. Read more about the recent case here> and read more about the history of the case below.

In 1999, the U.S. Department of Justice sued several major tobacco companies including Altria, R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard in a civil suit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) for fraudulent and unlawful conduct. court ruling

In 2006, after seven years, millions of documents, and a nine month trial in which 84 witnesses testified, the U.S. federal district court issued an opinion holding the tobacco companies liable for violating RICO by, among other things, fraudulently concealing the health risks associated with smoking and for marketing their products to children. In her decision, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler found that “defendants have engaged in an overarching scheme to defraud smokers and potential smokers for more than 50 years…”

As part of the decision, the court ordered tobacco corporations to produce and release “corrective statements.” These statements, which would appear in newspapers, on TV, in retail displays, on websites and on cigarette packs, include corrective statements about the adverse health effects of smoking and second hand smoke, statements about addiction, and statements about the manipulation by tobacco companies of the designs of cigarettes. The tobacco companies filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals. In May 2009, the court unanimously upheld Judge Kessler’s decision, with a few modifications to the remedies.

It’s now 2015, and the tobacco corporations are still fighting this mandate. Just last month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments in which the companies are asking the appeals court to set aside the corrective statements and craft new ones. The companies say that the preamble to the ads which states “A federal court has ruled that Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard and Philip Morris USA deliberately deceived the American public,” is overly broad and misleading. However, it is clear from the most recent Surgeon General’s Report and the RICO trial that tobacco corporations have misled the American public. You can see many of these documents in the Tobacco Documents Library.

Tobacco corporations continue to manufacture market and sell a product that will kill millions. Those same corporations use the court system to delay corrective statements which could save lives. It’s clear that civil litigation alone is not enough to deter tobacco corporations and their executives.

If you are interested in following the case, it is case 13-5028, U.S. versus Philip Morris USA.

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