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Child workers in danger on US tobacco farms

HRW documents the shocking conditions on tobacco farms in the US, where child workers are exposed to nicotine, toxic pesticides and other dangers.

Human Rights Watch’s recent report, Tobacco’s Hidden Children: Hazardous Child Labor in US Tobacco Farming, documents conditions under which children – ages seven to 17 – work on tobacco farms. Research was done in the four states where 90% of US tobacco is grown: North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.

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U.S. Patent Allowed For 22nd Century Group’s Technology to Regulate Nicotine Levels in Tobacco

22nd Century Group, Inc. (NYSE MKT: XXII ) today announced that on June 9, 2014 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a Notice of Allowance to the Company for technology that reduces nicotine in tobacco by suppressing expression of the NBB gene by itself and in combination with other nicotine biosynthesis genes.

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Why Read the ASH Report?

It can be hard for modern Americans to understand the amount of influence and harm US society has suffered as a result of tobacco.  It’s easy to see the disconnect, as it has been over five decades since more than ½ of the men and a 1/3 of the women in the US smoked.  50 years ago, smoking was everywhere, from hospitals to schools. ASH Report 1

There is no doubt that the US has come a long way in combating the death and disease caused by tobacco. Smoking bans have swept the country, tobacco advertisement is limited, and the overall prevalence of smoking has fallen significantly.  For all intents and purposes, it might appear as if the fight against tobacco has been won until we look at the devastating statistics.

  • If you are concerned with health, it is important to note that tobacco is still the number one preventable cause of death. Approximately 18% of adults still smoke in the US, and there are 1 billion smokers worldwide.
  • If you are concerned with saving lives, it is important to note that tobacco kills 480,000 people annually in the US; that’s more than murders, car accidents, and HIV/AIDS combined. 6 million die worldwide each year from tobacco related illnesses, and 100 million were killed in the 20th century alone.
  • If you are concerned with our economic future, it is important to note that the tobacco burden on our economy is approximately $300 billion in indirect and direct costs; and
  • If you are concerned with social responsibility, it is important to note that the tobacco industry has a vested financial interest in maintaining a high level of nicotine addiction.

 

The facts are staggering, but what the ASH “Avoidable Death” report demonstrates is that there are tools available to combat this ongoing epidemic.  The Framework Convention Alliance on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recognizes the uniqueness of tobacco, the only consumer product that when used as intended kills.

There is a set of scientifically validated measures contained in the FCTC that represent the collective wisdom of decades of global efforts to reduce tobacco use.  650 million unborn lives can be saved.

There are places in the world right now that have utilized measures from the FCTC guidelines to strengthen their national tobacco control policies.  Countries have recognized the importance of safeguarding their citizen’s health, and it is time for the US to intensify efforts to protect health by following suit.

Read Full ASH Report>

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Tobacco Firm seeks to say tobacco cuts risk

Smokeless tobacco maker Swedish Match is asking the Food and Drug Administration to certify its General-branded pouches of tobacco as less harmful than cigarettes. 

The company with its North American headquarters in Richmond, Virginia, is filing an application with the FDA to approve the snus (pronounced “snoose”) products as “modified risk.”

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PH a step closer to graphic health warning on cigarettes

MANILA, Philippines – The graphic health warning bill is now one step closer to becoming a law.

The bicameral conference committee on Tuesday, June 10, reconciled the Senate and House of Representatives versions of the bill, which seeks to place graphic health warnings on cigarette packs.

 

Click here to read the full article>

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Decision on tobacco sales awaits DoD review

The Navy’s efforts to eliminate tobacco sales on Navy and Marine Corps bases are on hold as a comprehensive Defense Department-wide review of tobacco policies gets underway.

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Rising Tobacco Epidemic in Asia Linked to Elevated Risk of Death

Newswise — A new study estimates that tobacco smoking has been linked to approximately 2 million deaths among adult men and women in Asia in recent years and predicts a rising death toll. The study, published in PLOS Medicine, was led by Wei Zheng, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, professor of Medicine and director of the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, and John Potter, M.D., Ph.D., a member and scientific advisor of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.

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Tobacco Apology Ads Will Only Run In 13 Black Newspapers

A ruling has finally been made on the plan submitted by tobacco companies to place ads that apologize for misleading the public about the dangers of smoking.  Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court said that the revised plan can go ahead. Only problem is that only 13 black newspapers were added to the new version of the plan.

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Tobacco Companies Rejected by High Court on Florida Suits

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected efforts by the tobacco industry to derail thousands of Florida smoker lawsuits, leaving intact 11 awards totaling more than $70 million.

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Durbin: Raise Tobacco Tax To Fund Medical Research

Sen. Dick Durbin wants a cigarette tax hike to help pay for basic medical research. The Illinois Democrat made his case Monday in Springfield, before a group of doctors and scientists at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

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Big Tobacco abroad: The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the downside to free trade

EXCERPT:

Because the treaty sets minimum standards, Chris Bostic, Deputy Director for Policy at Action of Smoking and Health (ASH), told me that the industry has “gone after any country that has pushed the norm.”

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Tobacco Buying Age to Increase in New Jersey

The age at which a person can buy tobacco could increase if a New Jersey bill passes a state Senate vote. The Senate committee-approved bill to increase the tobacco-buying age would call for merchants to refuse the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products to anyone younger than 21 years of age.

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Our New Report Offers a Global Perspective on Tobacco in America

Many Americans believe that the war on tobacco has been won, but the fact is the number of smokers is climbing globally. The World Health Organization estimates that 100 million people died as a result of tobacco use in the 20th century, a staggering figure. But unless we take greater action, the death toll in the 21st century is expected to be 1 billion.

Click Here to View the Report

Click Here to View the Report

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), in partnership with Legacy, recently released a new report; A Half Century of Avoidable Death: A Global Perspective on Tobacco in America” (“Avoidable Death”) which examines U.S. tobacco control efforts in the fifty years since the release of the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health – viewed through a global lense. The report comes on the heels of World No Tobacco Day – a day that is intended to draw global attention to the harms associated with tobacco and to advocate for stronger tobacco control policies.

In the mid-1990s, the world began to respond to the growing tobacco epidemic, eventually launching negotiations for the world’s first public health treaty: the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The FCTC is unique – it is the only treaty focusing solely on health, and the only one focusing on a particular product, tobacco. This is in recognition of the uniqueness of tobacco – the only consumer product that, when used exactly as intended, kills.

The FCTC treaty includes measures such as taxation, smoke-free air, package warning labels, public education, cessation, and legal liability for the tobacco industry. The FCTC was completed in 2003, and today 177 countries representing about 90 percent of the global population have ratified it. While the U.S. joined in the unanimous adoption of the text in 2003, and signed in 2004, it has never submitted the treaty to the U. S. Senate for formal ratification. The United States has not ratified the FCTC.

The “Avoidable Death” report considers U.S. activities with regard to six articles from the FCTC, all dealing with a different aspect of tobacco control. The report compares U.S. cigarette prices and taxes with those abroad, examines smoke-free air laws in Ireland, discusses plain packaging in Australia, considers point of sale bans in Norway, highlights successful public education campaigns from around the world, and spotlights the recent tobacco “corporate social responsibility” ban in Mauritius.

The intention of the “Avoidable Death” report is to use international examples to illustrate successes in tobacco control around the world and to inspire positive changes in the United States. The report helps to highlight the FCTC in the fight against the tobacco epidemic and highlights how international victories can be considered as case studies for the U.S.

At present, the only true barrier to tobacco control is political will.  Fifty years from now, in 2064, tobacco should be a topic of history.

Read the report here >

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A Half Century of Avoidable Death

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Megan Arendt

Office: 202-659-4310

Email: arendtm@ash.org

A HALF CENTURY OF AVOIDABLE DEATH

New Report Offers a Global Perspective on Tobacco in America

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 3, 2014 – A new report entitled A Half Century of Avoidable Death: A Global Perspective on Tobacco in America,” (“Avoidable Death”) released today by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), examines U.S. tobacco control efforts in the fifty years since the release of the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health – viewed through a global lense.

Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death and while significant progress has been made, international examples help to illustrate steps that could be taken by the United States. The report comes on the heels of World No Tobacco Day – a day that is intended to draw global attention to the harms associated with tobacco and to advocate for stronger tobacco control policies.

“Many Americans might think that the ‘tobacco wars’ have been won, but in fact the problem is getting worse globally,” commented Laurent Huber, ASH Executive Director. “We need to increase our efforts in the hopes that in another 50 years, tobacco will be relegated to the history books.”

In 2003, the first global health treaty – the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) – was completed to address the growing global tobacco epidemic and to date, 177 countries have joined the treaty.  “Avoidable Death” considers U.S. activities with regard to six articles from the FCTC, all dealing with a different aspect of tobacco control. The treaty calls for measures, adopted outside the U.S.,  such as graphic warning labels, total bans on advertising, and limiting tobacco industry influence over health regulations. During the past fifty years, the rest of the world has not been idle as it relates to the issue of tobacco.

The report compares U.S. cigarette prices and taxes with those abroad, examines smoke-free air laws in Ireland, discusses plain packaging in Australia, considers point of sale bans in Norway, highlights successful public education campaigns from around the world, and spotlights the recent tobacco “corporate social responsibility” ban in Mauritius.

“Avoidable Death” uses international examples to illustrate successes in tobacco control around the world and aims to inspire positive changes in the United States. The report helps to highlight the goals of the FCTC in the fight against the tobacco industry and how international victories can be applied as case studies within American borders.

Examples of countries taking tough action to fight tobacco include:

  • Australia, which requires that tobacco products be sold in plain packaging, without colorful branding;
  • Mauritius, which has banned all tobacco advertising, including so-called “corporate social responsibility” schemes;
  • Uruguay, which allows only one variant of each brand, to stop the tobacco industry from using colors to represent misleading claims like “light” and “low”;
  • Norway, which requires that tobacco be hidden behind the counter in stores;
  • And, many countries that now require large, pictographic warnings on tobacco packaging.

 

According to Dave Dobbins, COO at Legacy, “Despite our successes, an astonishing 480,000 Americans lose their lives annually to tobacco. We don’t have another 50 years to wait. In 2064, tobacco should be a topic of history.” Legacy provided support for the development of the report.

Read the full report here >

 

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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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Pizza with a purpose.

ASH has teamed up with California Pizza Kitchen to help you give back by simply doing what you already do: eating!

Bring this Flyer to the Pentagon Centre CPK Location!

Monday, June 23rd – Thursday, June 26th, 2014

California Pizza Kitchen

Pentagon Centre, 1201 South Hayes Street

Arlington, VA 22202

BRING THIS FLYER into the Pentagon Centre California Pizza Kitchen when you eat there during the above dates, and they will donate 20% of your entire check to ASH! Purchases include dine in, take out, catering and all beverages.

You’re going to eat anyway, so we are counting on you to chose a restaurant that will donate 20% of the proceeds to support ASH. Thank you!

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World No Tobacco Day 2014: What makes tobacco different?

Annually, the tobacco industry contributes over $1.6 million to federal candidates and spends approximately $16.6 million lobbying Congress. This money buys the tobacco industry access to government officials and influence over laws.

This is a serious problem, because, there is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy interests.

Many people would argue that politicians accept money from a myriad of sources, including other industries that people may consider unsavory or unhealthy.

What makes tobacco different?

First, tobacco is the only legal product that, when used exactly as intended, kills its users. The WHO provides an equally poignant reason – “Tobacco use is unlike other threats to global health. Infectious diseases do not employ multinational public relations firms. There are no front groups to promote the spread of cholera. Mosquitoes have no lobbyists.” Read more here> Industries that threaten public health should not control public health policy.

In 2012, California provided an example of the power of industry interference. During the presidential primary, there was an additional question on the ballot about raising the cigarette tax by $1.00. Tax increases are one of the most effective ways to decrease smoking. In a poll taken a few weeks before the vote, most Californians supported the increase. In the ensuing weeks, the tobacco industry led a $46.8 million dollar campaign to defeat the measure. Proposition 29 failed by a slim margin, and the tobacco tax was not increased. Read more here> and here>

When the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the only global public health treaty, was being drafted, tobacco industry influence on public health policy was a big concern. Therefore, the FCTC includes a section, Article 5.3, on protection from industry interference. One of the guidelines to aid countries in implementing this article strongly suggests “prohibiting tobacco industry contributions to political parties, candidates, or campaigns.”

While the U.S. has not ratified the FCTC, ASH encourages politicians to voluntarily comply with its guidelines. We are eager to announce that at this point, many have.

This year, on World No Tobacco Day, ASH is excited to certify 193 Senators and Congressman as “Free from Tobacco Money.” We are offering this certification as a public thank you to representatives who have not accepted campaign contributions from the tobacco industry in at least the last ten years. We sincerely thank them and encourage them to continue to do their part in the fight against tobacco. We hope that you will reach out to thank them as well! For the list of representatives and sample emails and tweets, please see here>

Thank you for taking action, and Happy World No Tobacco Day!

Come back to our site before the November elections to visit our Political Contributions Map. We will be updating it throughout the 2014 election cycle! See it here>

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ASH Certifies 193 Members of Congress “Free from Tobacco Money”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Megan Arendt
Office: 202-659-4310
Email: arendtm@ash.org 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 29, 2014 – Action on Smoking & Health (ASH), an organization devoted to creating a world free of tobacco-related damage, disease, and death both domestically and globally, announced today that 193 Senators and Representatives are being certified “Free from Tobacco Money.” This certification is awarded today in recognition of “World No Tobacco Day 2014. For the full list of those being recognized, please visit http://ash.org/wntd2014/.

On World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organization and its partners, including ASH, highlight the harms associated with tobacco and advocate for effective tobacco control policies. Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined, and tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death worldwide. Left unchecked, tobacco use will kill 1 billion people in the 21st century.

“We all know money talks, and in the case of tobacco industry contributions, the talk inevitably translates into more death and disease due to tobacco use,” said Dr. Alfred Munzer, chair of the ASH board and a long time anti-tobacco activist. “By refusing to take tobacco contributions, these political leaders demonstrate that the health of their constituents is far more important than the wealth of the tobacco barons.”

“Given that there is an irreconcilable conflict between public health and the interests of the tobacco industry, the FCTC guidelines recommend that governments shut out the tobacco industry from policy discussions,” said Laurent Huber, Director of the Framework Convention Alliance, a confederation of over 500 health groups from around the world. “By not accepting campaign contributions, these representatives are helping to achieve that aim.”

This certification recognizes that these representatives have not accepted campaign contributions from tobacco corporations for at least the past ten years. Annually, the tobacco industry contributes over $1.6 million to federal candidates and spends approximately $16.6 million lobbying Congress. ASH encourages politicians to voluntarily comply with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the world’s first treaty on tobacco control. The United States has signed but not ratified the FCTC treaty; however, ASH encourages voluntary compliance with its guidelines, especially at the state and local level.

ASH awards this certification in gratitude and acknowledgement of the commitment of these representatives to stand with health.

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Put public health on agenda of trade deal talks & ‘uncuff’ governments

Trade agreements are being used to “handcuff governments” over health policy, Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organisation said at its assembly. This was “disturbing” she went on, adding that trade agreements have many consequences for health.

A nation’s health can be benefited by such deals, whether by increasing exports to foreign markets, bringing in foreign investment, or reducing the price of imported goods. But for all this potential good, they can also do just as much harm if their impact on health isn’t considered when they are being designed and negotiated. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), currently under negotiation, is one such agreement that has caused big debate over proposals that included patenting medical procedures.

Read Full Article Here>

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World No Tobacco Day: Tobacco Taxation

Raising taxes on tobacco products can affect the price, and therefore consumption, of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health further explains the issue via video, infographic, research, and more. Click here>

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The 3 deadliest drugs in America are all totally legal

As the US debates drug policy and marijuana legalization, there’s one aspect of the war on drugs that remains perplexingly contradictory: some of the most dangerous drugs in the US are perfectly legal.

Don’t believe it? Just look at this chart, compiled with available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

This chart does come with a big qualification: it’s not a perfect comparison across the board. One driver of absolute tobacco and alcohol deaths is that both substances are legal and easily available. Other substances would most likely be far deadlier if they were as available as tobacco and alcohol.

Read more from Vox here>

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

In a recent message, an ASH ally used this famous quote to encapsulate the long and arduous journey they’d embarked on to advocate for their government’s complete ban of corporate social responsibility (CSR) by the tobacco industry.

But let’s take a step back. What is CSR, and why is tobacco industry CSR so unique?

Corporate social responsibility is an opportunity for the private sector to positively affect the communities they operate in.  Today, social responsibility for individuals, organizations, corporations, and more has become a driving force and tool to manage reputation.

The tobacco industry is similar yet different. They fund certain charitable causes, self-promote their donations, and cleverly refer to this marketing as CSR.  But there is no amount of charitable goodwill the tobacco industry can produce to mitigate the fact that their products kill up to half of their users (6 million across the globe annually), are an economic threat to families and governments, and if current trends persist, will kill 1 billion people (smokers and nonsmokers alike) in the 21st century.

One country has taken a stand against the extreme hypocrisy of tobacco industry CSR.  In 2008, the small African nation of Mauritius became the first country in the world to successfully ban tobacco industry CSR schemes by law (Mauritian Public Health Act of 2008).

Mauritius utilized the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) definition of “any form of contribution to any event, activity, or individual with the aim, effect, or likely effect of promoting a tobacco product or tobacco use directly or indirectly.” This demonstrates Mauritius’ high-level of commitment to tobacco control and public health policy, which they achieved despite the fact that the African continent and many other low- to middle- income countries are prime targets of the ever-expanding tobacco industry.

There are still over 60 countries with operating tobacco industry CSR programs specifically aimed at circumventing tobacco marketing restrictions as highlighted in the ASH Tobacco Marketing Map.

One thing is clear.

The tobacco industry cannot be allowed to continue to provide donations to the communities it is simultaneously hurting with its products. ASH tracks these marketing schemes and is working toward CSR advocacy initiatives that will help policy makers globally.

If you’ve been a witness to tobacco industry misconduct, share your story with us by submitting a message to CSR@ash.org.

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Tobacco’s Hidden Children

Hazardous Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming

The Human Rights Watch’s 138-page report documents conditions for children working on tobacco farms in four states where 90 % of US tobacco is grown: North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Children reported vomiting, nausea, headaches, and dizziness while working on tobacco farms, all symptoms consistent with acute nicotine poisoning. Many also said they worked long hours without overtime pay, often in extreme heat without shade or sufficient breaks, and wore no, or inadequate, protective gear.

Read the full report here>

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Live at the UN: Event Promotes Tobacco Control in Post-2015 Development Agenda

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—which range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS—form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and leading development institutions.  They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. 

The UN is now working with governments, civil society, and other partners to build on this momentum to create a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will replace the current MDGs after 2015 until 2030.

As ASH’s Campaign Coordinator, I have been working in New York for the past year to ensure that tobacco control will be included in the new SDGs. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), for which tobacco is a leading risk factor, have gained a significant amount of attention from member states, as shown by their Open Working Group (OWG) statements. With support from ASH, the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA), co-hosted an event last week along with the permanent missions of Jamaica, Belgium, and the Pacific Small Island Developing States. The purpose was to educate member states, UN representatives, and civil society about the importance of including tobacco control in the post-2015 global development agenda. The event was very well attended by influential decision makers for the comprehensive review and assessment of the progress achieved in the prevention and control of NCDs (NCD Review and Assessment) to be held in July 2014, including the co-facilitators from Jamaica and Belgium, and member states that will be drafting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

ASH has been and continues to be the sole advocate at the UN to ensure that tobacco control is not neglected. If our goal is achieved and tobacco is included in the SDGs, tobacco control will become a national priority worldwide, national tobacco control program funding will increase, and smoking prevalence will decline. This will prevent millions of premature deaths and save billions of dollars in healthcare costs. Clearly, it is in the best interest of governments to advocate for the inclusion of tobacco control in the SDGs. It is a win-win for the world.

ASH will keep working hard as the only group fighting to ensure that tobacco is not left out of the SDGs, but we can’t do it without you.

 
To watch the event click here. Share the webcast on social media!

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Panel Appointed For WTO Mega-Case On Australia Tobacco Packaging

World Trade Organization Director General Roberto Azevêdo yesterday appointed three panellists to examine the dispute against an Australian public health measure requiring tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging in the country. A decision in the case will be forthcoming in six months.

Five countries have brought varying but similar cases against Australia for the measure. The director general appointed the panellists because there was no agreement by the six parties in the dispute (five complainants and one respondent) on the composition of the panel, the WTO said. This case has the largest number of members in WTO history, a WTO source said.

The panellists will be:

  • Chairperson: Mr. Alexander Erwin (South Africa)
  • Members: Mr. François Dessemontet (Switzerland) and Ms. Billie Miller (Barbados)

The panel report will have to be issued in maximum six months after the date of the composition.

The six parties involved in this dispute (Australia, Ukraine, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Indonesia) agreed in April to accept the same panellists for all of the disputes (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 26 April 2014). They also agreed to harmonise the timetable for the panel proceedings, cooperate in all matters related to the agreement, and not to raise any procedural objections to any of the steps set out in it, according to sources.

The case initiated by Ukraine (WT/DS434) asserts a violation of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) trademark protection. The cases initiated by Honduras (WT/DS435), the Dominican Republic (WT/DS441), Cuba (WT/DS458) and Indonesia (WT/DS467), include an issue related to geographical indications, products named for particular places and characteristics.

Read more>

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Facing the Wrong Way

The Chamber of Commerce is undercutting its trade agenda by supporting Big Tobacco.

Since early in 2011, much of our attention here at ASH has been focused on the nexus between trade and tobacco, in particular on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). If you have followed this issue, you’ve seen the involvement of public health groups, state officials, the Obama Administration, attorneys general, and Members of Congress.

Conspicuously missing from this list is the tobacco industry itself, which has kept an extremely low profile. In fact, a search for the word “transpacific” on the website of Philip Morris USA renders zero hits. Given that suing governments under trade agreements is one of the industry’s favorite tactics, and this public discussion is all about taking away that tactic, how can they stay quiet? There are two reasons.

First and most obvious, like every major industry, tobacco companies enjoy privileged, behind-closed-doors access to the office of the United States Trade Representative. Their representatives on trade advisory panels have access to negotiating texts (more so even than Members of Congress) and a direct line to the negotiators. So they don’t really need to argue in public.

The second reason is more puzzling. The tobacco industry doesn’t have to put up a fight because the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does it for them. This puts the weight of nearly every other major corporation behind Big Tobacco – we don’t know exactly how many, because the Chamber will not reveal its membership. Their reasoning is the age-old “slippery slope” argument: if you exempt tobacco, next will be alcohol, then fast food, then pharmaceuticals.

The Chamber’s stance on tobacco and trade is wrong for two reasons. First, tobacco is unique in that it is the only consumer product that kills when used exactly as intended. It is simply immoral to advocate for its increased use.

But it is also poor tactics. The Chamber really wants a successful conclusion to the TPP, but there are so many perceived affronts to health, the environment, and consumer and human rights that it is in danger of foundering. Tobacco is a rallying point for groups who care about these issues. If the Chamber wants the TPP to float, it is time to jettison the tobacco industry.

Take action by tweeting “Exempt tobacco from trade agreements as the unique & deadly product it is, @USChamber. #StandWithHealth”

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