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.
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.
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.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Megan Arendt
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.
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
ASH has teamed up with California Pizza Kitchen to help you give back by simply doing what you already do: eating!
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!
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>
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Megan Arendt
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.
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.
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!
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”