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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
By: Jimmy Kolker, HHS Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States.
This May 31st, we celebrate World No Tobacco Day exit disclaimer icon – a day to highlight not only the significant risks and tragic, preventable consequences of tobacco use, but to double our efforts to reduce the consumption of tobacco products in the United States and around the world.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 TODAYand please consider becoming a monthly supporter.
Upcoming ASH Event
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>
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.
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.”
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.
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 growing 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>.
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
ASH Policy Director Chris Bostic, Richard Daynard, and Tamar Lawrence-Samuel (Corporate Accountability International) shed some light on the untapped potential in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
“Article 19 has similar—if not greater—potential to curb the operations of the industry, and therefore the tobacco epidemic.”
The resolution urges companies to agree to participate in mediation of any alleged human rights violations if requested by certain governmental agencies identified by the OECD.
It calls for the companies to mediate disputes involving, among other things, freedom of association and collective bargaining, the elimination of forced or compulsory labor, child labor and discrimination.
This new research by the WHO shows the huge opportunity governments have from increasing taxes on tobacco.
WHO found that if cigarette tax increased by US$ 0.8 (or 1 international $) per pack worldwide, as many as 15 million lives of current smokers could be saved, and US$141 billion in extra revenue could be raised.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 6, 2016 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) heard testimony from experts yesterday on why tobacco should be considered a human rights issue. The thematic hearing, held at the Organization of American States (OAS), was the first time the Commission has formally considered tobacco in its work. Tobacco continues to be the number one cause of preventable death in the world, killing about 6 million people per year and causing incalculable disease and economic costs.
Uruguayan Ambassador to the United States Carlos Gianelli Derois said at an Embassy event recognizing the Commission hearing, “We value the fact that the highest OAS body for human rights has decided to hold a special session on this issue as a gesture that reinforces what President Vázquez said during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly last year: ‘Public health is a key element of the sovereignty of our nations, a right of the people, a factor for the development of our societies and an unavoidable responsibility of the State.’”
(L-R) Oscar A. Cabrera, Verónica Schoj, Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Chris Bostic, Belén Rios. Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR
Expert witnesses from three groups – Action on Smoking and Health (ASH US), the InterAmerican Heart Foundation (FIC Argentina) and the O’Neill Institute at Georgetown University Law Center – argued that the failure of governments to curtail tobacco industry practices such as marketing to children and interfering in public health policy amounted to a violation of obligations under several human rights treaties.
The solution, according to the panelists, is the full implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global treaty which has been joined by nearly every country in the Americas. The United States is one of the few holdouts.
“Governments have an obligation to provide citizens with the highest attainable standard of health,” said Laurent Huber, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health. “Implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is entirely attainable, it is extremely cost effective, and we know it works.”
Panelists focused in particular on the corruptive practices of the tobacco industry in pushing cigarettes, which kill half of long term users, and advertising that is often aimed at women, young people, children and vulnerable groups. For example, one panelist shared a quote from a tobacco executive who stated “We don’t smoke that s***. We just sell it. We just reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and the stupid.” – R.J. Reynolds Executive, Cited in, First Tuesday, ITV 1992.
The IACHR does not have the authority to oblige governments to enact tobacco control regulations, but it receives periodic human rights reports from its member governments, and can press to have tobacco issues included. The Commission can be instrumental in creating the political will necessary to advance human rights. The panel presented a number of recommendations on further action by the Commission:
1. Give concrete recommendations to States on how to implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control;
2. Recognize that the tobacco industry has developed aggressive strategies that hinder the effective exercise of the right to health;
3. Collaborate closely with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO);
4. Track and include the issue of tobacco control in all lines of work of the Unit on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; and
5. Include the problem of smoking in its Poverty Report.
Following the joint presentation, the Commissioners responded and posed several thoughtful questions. Commissioner Esmeralda de Troitiño of Panama said that she was “impacted and struck” by the hearing. “To see the internal documents showing that they’ve [the tobacco industry] been lying and denying reality! The industry is overstepping their responsibility and going into corruption. That is the strong link that bonds the Commission and organizations to protect fundamental rights.”
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.
View the presentation powerpoint in Spanish and in English. Talking points are below per speaker. Video Disclaimer: The first two presenters will speak in Spanish. ASH staff present third and fourth in English.
Good morning, I’m Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Staff Attorney for Action on Smoking and Health. For the next few minutes, I would like to share with you some examples of what the tobacco industry has to say about themselves and their products and also illustrate how the tobacco industry influences social perception about tobacco.
The tobacco industry markets and sells products that they know to be deadly. In fact, they intentionally advertise to women, young people, children and vulnerable groups such as the LGBT community.
Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, ASH. Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR
In 1998, the Attorney’s General of 46 states came to an agreement with the 5 biggest U.S. tobacco companies about advertising and marketing of tobacco products. During that legal action, thousands of pages of internal industry documents were produced as evidence. Much of what we will share with you today is from those documents. That is how we can truly show the difference between what the tobacco industry knew, and what they said.
Slide- Lied for decades
On this slide, you will see that the internal industry documents tell us that by 19533, RJ Reynolds knew that tobacco causes lung cancer. However, RJ Reynolds and other tobacco companies continued to misrepresent that information and confuse the public about the health effects of tobacco for decades.
The picture on the previous slide, of the men testifying before the United States Congress, was taken in 1994. On that day, 7 tobacco executives swore before Congress that they did not believe that nicotine was addictive. However, internal documents show that the industry knew all about the addictiveness of nicotine- from as early as 1963.
Slide- They got lips?
From the internal documents and even some public statements, we have also found out some of the ways that the tobacco industry targets customers.
Many forms of advertising to children in the U.S. were banned by the 1998 master settlement agreement I previously mentioned, including using cartoons, billboards and free samples.
However, the industry still needs replacement smokers to continue to buy their products as their current customers die from tobacco related diseases. As my colleague will demonstrate later in the presentation, the industry still finds many ways to target children around the world. They have illustrated cigarettes as healthful, slimming, glamourous, adventurous and cool. The industry has grown and changed with the times, and they market to what the current societal standard of “cool” is.
Slide- Project SCUM
The tobacco industry has made a point of targeting vulnerable populations other than children as well. This slide shows a business plan, found in the internal documents, that targets, among others, the LGBT community and the homeless population of San Francisco. RJ Reynolds nicknamed the plan “Project SCUM.”
In addition to advertising, tobacco corporations have utilized many approaches to mislead the public about the harms of tobacco.
One common tool has been “junk science.” The tobacco industry has funded scientific studies that are designed to make their products look less dangerous. This helped them build credibility, develop industry-friendly experts, and create confusion about the health effects of their products.
The industry has also paid doctors to testify on their behalf. For example, 6 physicians have been paid to repeatedly testify that cigarettes do not cause head and neck cancers, despite overwhelming scientific consensus that they do.
As we’ve heard, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the Americas and the world. But we know how to prevent it – the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The only requirement to implementing the FCTC is political will.
The tobacco industry is keenly aware of this, and has made sapping political will part of its basic business model. While there is often friction between the interests of commerce and the interests of public health, for tobacco it is different. The FCTC itself recognizes that there is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and governments’ public health goals.
The tobacco industry impedes public health policy in a number of ways, many of which we will not be able to address today.
Let me just mention one key industry strategy – litigation.
The tobacco industry has launched hundreds of cases in response to public health measures at the local, national and international levels. The map above is simply a snapshot of major litigation over a recent two-year period.
There is no other business which makes litigation such a major part of its day-to-day functioning. Rule of law is a vital component of modern democracy, and everyone has the right to seek justice. But the tobacco industry abuses this right to a startling degree.
The tobacco industry knows that it does not need to win cases in order to create what is often termed regulatory chill. The mere threat of costly litigation is often enough. Far too often, governments decide not to risk financial catastrophe and back away from strong tobacco control measures.
Litigation under trade agreements is a well-publicized example of the tobacco industry’s global litigation strategy. Typically in other commercial sectors, such cases cost governments between $3 and 8 million in legal costs, not including any settlement.
However, it is part of the tobacco industry’s strategy to inflict the greatest legal costs possible on governments. Cases are intentionally dragged out and made more complicated in order to increase legal costs.
In December 2015, Australia won its trade case against Philip Morris International over its standardized packaging law.
That case cost the Australian government over $50 million, in spite of the fact that the case was thrown out on jurisdictional grounds without ever getting to the merits of the case.
The Uruguayan government is facing a similar suit from Philip Morris, which has already dragged on for years. It will likely cost the tobacco industry far more than their profits from such a small market. But market share in Uruguay is not the industry’s main concern – they know that other governments are unlikely to follow Uruguay’s example if litigation costs in this case are huge. We know that tobacco regulations were dropped in response to trade litigation threats in Togo, Namibia, the Solomon Islands and even Canada.
The tobacco industry is also adept at buying the favor of politicians, through contributions to political campaigns, through lobbying and through outright bribery.
This headline is just one of the most recent, well-documented accusations.
An example from the Americas is illustrative of how the tobacco industry directly influences government officials.
Throughout the 1990s, British American Tobacco and Philip Morris co-ran the so-called “Latin Project”, which paid doctors and scientists to publish selective data to counter the science on secondhand smoke, in order to prevent smoke-free air regulations. This was long after the tobacco industry knew the dangers of secondhand smoke.
In a moment, you will hear more examples of industry interference in the Americas, but I wanted to put these efforts in a global context.
Such actions by the tobacco industry bring up rights well beyond health and life. Issues of political rights, corruption, and justice, to name a few, should also be considered.
And while these are the acts of private corporations, it is government regulations, lack of enforcement and international laws that give space for the tobacco industry to maneuver. The dynamic between the tobacco industry and governments can be changed, and in fact must be changed under the FCTC.