facebook twitter rss

Progress in ASH’s Post-2015 Program

We’re almost there.

This year, tobacco control was included in several key United Nations (UN) documents that will change our future. We know that mentioning tobacco control and tobacco control treaties in UN documents seems only natural, but in the last set of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), tobacco control and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) were left out.

Mentioning tobacco as a risk factor for development challenges and measuring progress in reducing its use is important because tobacco use is the only risk factor common to the four major NCDs: heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and diabetes.

No country is immune to these diseases, which is why we must take serious action.

Leaving tobacco out of the MDGs in 2000 had global repercussions such as limited whole-of-government engagement in tobacco control and insufficient resources for tobacco control, both of which caused a lag in implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

And, since the establishment of the MDGs, the burden of NCDs has grown significantly in low- and middle-income countriespost 2015 YE blog

The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be decided upon in September 2015, after the MDGs expire. The SDGs will set the development agenda for low-, middle-, and high-income countries for the next 15 years. We must ensure that tobacco control and NCDs are at the forefront of the post-2015 development agenda and that health is a priority, so that adequate resources are allocated at the country level.

This year, ASH has been tirelessly advocating for the inclusion of the tobacco treaty (the FCTC) within the global NCD framework and the post-2015 development agenda. The UN NCD Review took place in July of this year. At that time, we welcomed the inclusion of the continued commitment to the accelerated implementation of the FCTC in the outcome document.  The Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development also completed its work in July and published a proposal for the SDGs. This included the FCTC as a means of achieving the implementation target under the health goal. It states:

“3a. strengthen implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in all countries as appropriate”

We gladly welcome the inclusion of the FCTC; however we must work hard over the next few months to ensure that this proposed language remains in the final text. This advocacy work requires a joint effort among all tobacco control and NCD advocates.

In October, tobacco control advocates and government officials met in Moscow, Russia for the FCTC Conference of the Parties. The post-2015 development agenda was a key topic of discussion and was included in a decision on NCDs. It states:

Requests the Secretariat to: promote the WHO FCTC, wherever possible, in ongoing discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.”

We urge the Secretariat of the COP to highlight the importance of the FCTC within the post-2015 agenda over the next few months.

Although we have seen successes this year, there is much left to do before the post-2015 development agenda is finalized. We must continue to advocate for the inclusion of the FCTC in the SDGs.

If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Shana Narula, Campaign Coordinator, narulas@ash.org. For more information on this campaign, click here.

Please consider supporting ASH’s work on the post-2015 development agenda by clicking here.

Posted in | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Big Tobacco Wants to do to Foreigners What it has Done to Americans

Those requirements have appeared in previous fast-track bills. They sound perfectly reasonable, right?

Well, consider this: Australia is a party to the TPP and already has a free trade agreement with the United States. Under Australian law, cigarettes must be sold in “plain packaging.” Health warnings have to cover at least 75 per cent of the front of most tobacco packaging, 90 per cent of the back of cigarette packaging and 75 per cent of the back of most other tobacco product packaging. The health warnings often take the form of gruesome images of the physical harm smoking can cause.

Philip Morris Asia, based in Hong Kong, claims the law unfairly discriminates against its products and thus violates the 1993 Hong-Kong-Australia Bilateral Investment Treaty. The company has filed for adjudication with the UN’s trade dispute settlement body. If Philip Morris wins, Australia will not have to repeal the law, but it could be compelled to pay damages to Philip Morris.

Wouldn’t that be ironic – paying damages to a corporation whose products damage people’s health? A corporation that was, along with other American tobacco companies, found guilty of fraudulently covering up the health risks of smoking and marketing cigarettes to children?

Congress could take all this into account when it drafts the fast-track bill for the TPP. It could demand that the tobacco industry be excluded from the agreement’s dispute settlement chapter. That would be the right thing to do. There is nothing good about tobacco and everybody knows it.

Read Full Article>

Posted in , , | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ASH’s Achievements & Upcoming Plans

COPIn 2014, ASH succeeded in:

  • Blocking tobacco industry attempts to derail the negotiations of the Tobacco Treaty (FCTC): The global tobacco treaty has been a catalyst for global change, and since its entry into force, many countries around the world have begun implementing its life changing measures.  This year, the 179 countries that are Parties to the World Health Organization (WHO) treaty met to negotiate key guidelines to assist with the implementation of one of its most important measures: price and tax measures to decrease the use of tobacco. The tobacco industry tried to block the adoption of these guidelines.  However, ASH coordinated a coalition of 100s of non-governmental organizations from around the world that were able to unite in blocking the tobacco industry’s attempts to derail the negotiations, and these very important guidelines passed without changes. Implementation of these efficient price measures will keep cigarettes away from children and will motivate millions of smokers to quit.
  • Including tobacco control in United Nations draft Sustainable Development Goals: UNASH’s campaign at the United Nations in New York resulted in the inclusion of a tobacco control target in the draft United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that will replace the Millennium Development Goals. These Sustainable Development Goals will be negotiated until September 2015. If we are able to keep tobacco as a target, it will elevate tobacco control measures to help stop the tobacco epidemic and will become a priority at the national level in most countries around the world.
  • Educating the public health community on the implementation of effective tobacco policy: ASH launched two groundbreaking reports (“Avoidable Death” and “FCTC Implementation Guide”) for public health professionals on the progress that has been made since the first Surgeon General’s (SG) Report on Smoking in 1964, and on the conclusions of what still needs to be done from the 2014 SG report.  Our Implementation Guide is a tool to implement effective policy measures, and the associated database is a fantastic resource for those efforts. The use of our guide and database could have resounding implications for U.S. tobacco control policy in all 50 states.
  • Working for unique treatment of tobacco under 2 massive free trade agreements: ASH continued its efforts to achieve unique treatment for tobacco under two milestone free trade agreements being negotiated: the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Success will mean that the tobacco industry will be denied new privileges and rights under the agreements, such as the right to directly sue governments (including US state and local governments) over measures to reduce tobacco use. Following our extensive work to organize an international coalition of support, ASH learned that the US intends to propose excluding tobacco from at least the investment chapter of the TPPA, thus stopping industry lawsuits. If the proposal becomes part of the eventual agreement, it will fundamentally change, for the better, the landscape for the relationship between trade rules and the fight against the tobacco epidemic, especially since the TPPA has been touted as the “model 21st century trade agreement.”
  • Conducting investigations into liability options domestically and abroad: ASH has partnered with legal clinics to conduct investigations into liability options domestically and abroad. The findings from this research have been written into several legal briefs, which have been discussed with and evaluated by numerous stakeholders. This research was presented to a national audience of public health professionals at the American Public Health Conference.

 

Here’s our promise to you: you can change the world for the better, right now, with your gift to ASH. And, there is an opportunity for you to help even more through our STAND Matching Gift Campaign (Stand Tall Against Needless Death).  Your support will have double the impact thanks to the generosity of a few donors who have pledged to match every donation, dollar for dollar, up to $50,000 until January 1, 2015.

We take pride in our partnership with you for a world free from the devastation, disease, and death caused by tobacco. That is why in 2015 we will strive to:

cop ma

  • Lead our global coalition: We will continue to lead a global coalition of over 500 organizations from more than 100 countries to help accelerate the implementation of the global tobacco treaty that has the potential to save 100s of millions of lives if governments work to implement the treaty immediately.
  • Include tobacco in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Inclusion of tobacco control as a target under the health goal in the Sustainable Development Goals that will replace the Millennium Development Goals and will help generate action at the national level to curb the tobacco epidemic in most countries around the world.  This will lead to accelerated action to curb tobacco use. ASH will work with its public health and global development allies to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.  2015 is the most critical time for this campaign as new Sustainable Development Goals will be adopted by September 2015. That is why ASH will continue to push for the inclusion of tobacco control measures in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Certification
  • Educate U.S. representatives: We will continue our work to certify more U.S. Representatives/Senators and Universities as “Free From Tobacco Money”.  We will also educate legislators, policy makers, tobacco advocates, and public health advocates with our effective tobacco control resources, and we will publicize tobacco industry interference through political contributions and corporate social responsibility schemes.
  • Ensure unique treatment for tobacco in trade agreements: 2015 will be a pivotal year in ASH’s trade work. It is expected that the TPPA negotiations will be completed. ASH and its partners will work to ensure that unique treatment for tobacco survives the political process, as the tobacco industry and its allies in Congress work to overturn the US exclusion proposal. TTIP negotiations will enter a new phase in which individual chapters and products will be discussed, and ASH will work with its allies in Europe to ensure similar treatment for tobacco as in the TPPA.
  • Present our research on liability options: We will host a panel with key stakeholders to present our research to an international group of tobacco control experts at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health. At the same event, ASH will host a workshop focused on helping lawyers from 10 countries understand possible litigation options and how to initiate those options in their home countries. Our goal is to publish this information in 2015, in order to inform a broader group of practitioners about litigation options. ASH will continue its work with legal clinics and continue to expand the scope of this program.

 

Your donation to support the work we’ve laid out for 2015 will make a world of a difference.  So let’s fulfill our STAND Matching Grant to support ASH in our 2015 initiatives and to support some of our most time sensitive work yet. We cannot combat the tobacco industry and ensure the implementation of effective policies that protect everyone’s health without your help!

This year will be hard to top, but with your support and our STAND Matching Gift Campaign, we can ensure that next year is even more of a success than this year.

Donate Now Please STAND with us by making as generous a gift as you can.

Posted in | Tagged | Leave a comment

U.S. taxpayers bear 60% of the cost of smoking-related diseases, study finds

Cigarette smoking generates as much as $170 billion in annual health care spending in the United States, according to a new study co-authored by researchers at Georgia State University’s School of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and RTI International.

Dr. Terry F. Pechacek, a professor of health management and policy at Georgia State, was the senior author of the study, “Annual Healthcare Spending Attributable to Cigarette Smoking (An Update),” which was published Wednesday by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study found that taxpayers bear 60 percent of the cost of smoking-attributable diseases through publicly funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Despite declines in the rates of smoking in recent years, the costs on society due to smoking have increased.

Researchers found that smoking is responsible for:

  • $45 billion in of Medicare spending per year,
  • $39.9 billion in Medicaid spending per year and
  • $23.8 billion in spending for other government-sponsored insurance programs per year.

The researchers concluded smoking accounts for 8.7 percent of annual healthcare spending in the U.S.

The analysis, conducted in 2013, used data from the 2006-2010 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and 2004-2009 National Health Interview Survey.

Cigarette smoking remains a leading cause of serious, preventable disease in the United States, with adults reporting at least 14 million major medical conditions attributable to smoking.

The study concludes that “comprehensive tobacco control programs and policies are still needed to continue progress toward ending the tobacco epidemic in the U.S. 50 years after the release of the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health.”

SOURCE: here

Stand up against Big Tobacco. Don’t be a target.

Posted in , , | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Legal Victories in International Tobacco Control 2014

Philip Morris International was fined in Brazil for targeting youth  brazil

The consumer protection agency from the Brazilian state of São Paulo has fined Philip Morris over $480,000. The agency acted after a formal complaint was filed against Philip Morris by tobacco control activists who documented how its marketing tactics in its “Be Marlboro” campaign were aimed at youth. Read more here>

 Russia banned point of sale displays & smoking in enclosed public places 

These new laws will save lives in Russia, a country that has one of the highest smoking rates in the world.  Russia is the world’s second largest cigarette market, but the new legislation brings the country in line with tobacco control progress that has been made in many other parts of the world. Read more here>

British American Tobacco was fined for fueling the black marketUK

U.K. regulators have fined BAT $1.03 million for oversupplying cigarettes into the low-tax Belgium market to be smuggled back into the U.K., where tobacco taxes are much higher. Read more here>.

nepal

90% of surface area of tobacco packaging in Nepal must be covered with graphic warnings

The new law is the most stringent of ANY country, surpassing that passed by India, which requires 85% coverage. Graphic warnings are a proven deterrent to potential smokers and encourage users to quit. Read more here>

ethiopia

el salvadorzimbabwe

 

 

 

Ethiopia, El Salvador and Zimbabwe became parties to the FCTC

Three new countries became party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2014, bringing the total number of parties to 180. Reaching 180 parties in 10 years makes the WHO FCTC one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in the UN history. Read more here>

Click here to support ASH’s work in the fight against Big Tobacco.

Posted in , , | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trade deals must not undermine fight against tobacco

Australian expertise in tobacco control is helping save lives around the world, but that work could be undone.

Every day, 5500 children in India start using tobacco. If they continue the habit, as many do, the illnesses brought about by tobacco addiction will kill about half of them. In the meantime, Big Tobacco is allowed to continue glamorising the habit through fancy packages that appeal to youngsters.

Nearly half of all males in India use tobacco in some form. In total, about 275 million people use tobacco. Every year, it kills 1.2 million people in India. That’s more than malaria and HIV put together. Often, the entire family is pushed into poverty by catastrophic healthcare expenditure, as well as the loss of the breadwinner – usually the male in the family.

Throughout the Asia-Pacific region, tobacco use is one of the leading killers. It is responsible for more deaths than any other substance in India (and the world).   Although tobacco control did not rate a mention when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently visited Australia, it is a significant threat to India’s development.

Australia is doing its part to help its neighbours in the region respond to this development issue. But while we are doing our part, we must be careful that regional trade agreements do not hinder our efforts.

Read More>

Posted in , , | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good Enough Isn’t.

An ISDS carve-out in the TPPA would be good for tobacco control, but not good enough.

There has been some scuttlebutt in trade circles over the past weeks about a possible US proposal in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to exempt tobacco measures from the investment chapter. The effect would be to deny the tobacco industry of the right to sue governments over anti-tobacco regulations under the TPP. Without being able to confirm or deny the rumors (Reuters ran a news story here), we have begun thinking about what this proposal would mean.

When ASH began its work on the TPP in 2011, we were told by experts that we were wasting our time, that corporations, including the tobacco industry, so dominate trade negotiations that a change was impossible.

We have already proven that sentiment wrong. For the first time in trade negotiation history, not only has there been a robust conversation about tobacco in the TPP, there is a proposal from Malaysia for a full exemption, or carve-out, for tobacco measures. With negotiations expected to conclude in 2015, we are holding our breath and urging other countries to support Malaysia.

The chart below shows the relative adequacy

of the various positions on tobacco in the TPP.

We started with a clear “zero” – tobacco was treated the same as flour or toaster ovens. The first US proposal, in 2012, was extremely weak, but we scored it a “one” simply because it at least identified tobacco as a unique product in international trade.

In 2013, the US backed off from its poor position to one even poorer, earning a “one-half” on the ten-point scale. On the same day in August 2013, we learned that Malaysia had proposed a full carve-out for tobacco measures.

trade blog1

So why does a potential ISDS carve-out merit an “eight”? It addresses the most critical issue in the friction between trade law and strong tobacco measures – the industry’s right to sue governments directly. These suits cost governments millions, creating “regulatory chill”. Check out earlier blog entries on industry tactics using trade rules here.

Going back to 2011, achieving a tobacco carve-out for ISDS would have been considered a big win. It still is. But we can do better for public health, and the better solution has already been proposed by Malaysia.

 

Here is why a full carve-out is the best solution:

The tobacco industry finds government “champions”. An ISDS carve-out would still allow governments to sue other governments over tobacco control regulations. In the 1980s and early 90s, multinational tobacco corporations used the United States to sue foreign governments over tobacco regulations. President Clinton put a stop to that through an executive order, which is still in force. But the industry remains able to find champions.

Most recently, Ukraine was the first of five countries to sue Australia over its plain packaging law under WTO rules. Ukraine does not export any tobacco to Australia. British American Tobacco has publicly admitted that it is paying for Ukraine’s legal fees. Some have speculated that perhaps other monies changed hands under the former Yanukovych regime, perhaps to help pay for zoo animals.

There are other aspects of the TPP that potentially harm tobacco control. The TPP and most modern trade agreements give expanded rights and privileges to corporations. For example, the regulatory coherence chapter of the TPP would guarantee the tobacco industry a seat at the table when tobacco control laws and regulations are being considered.

This is in direct contradiction of Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which prohibits industry interference in public health policy. Eleven of the 12 TPP negotiating countries have ratified the FCTC (the US is the only outlier, although it is a signatory). Many of these additional rights give government champions new causes for trade lawsuits.

Our own state Attorneys General agree that a full carve-out is necessary. While the federal government negotiates the TPP, state and local tobacco control laws are not immune to trade disputes. In our federal system, most of the real progress against the tobacco epidemic occurs at the state and local level.

Forty-five out of 50 Attorneys General have signed on to a letter endorsing Malaysia’s full carve-out proposal in order to protect state tobacco control legislation.

Tobacco is uniquely dangerous, and should not be treated like other products. Tobacco is the only consumer product that, when used exactly as intended, kills. As Prakit Vathesatogkit of Thailand said recently during the FCTC Conference of the Parties, “the purpose of international trade agreements is the free movement of goods, and tobacco is no good.”

Posted in | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Success: 90% graphic health warnings now required on tobacco packs in Nepal

One of the world’s smallest countries – Nepal – has taken a large step toward combating tobacco-related disease this week. Ninety percent of the surface area of all tobacco packaging must now be covered with harrowing images designed to warn consumers of the health consequences of tobacco use. The new law is the most stringent of any country, surpassing that passed by India two weeks ago which requires 85% coverage.

Graphic warnings are a proven deterrent to potential smokers and encourage users to quit. Nepal’s series of images depict mouth cancer, deformed foetuses and other documented consequences of tobacco use. They are a powerful tool for tobacco control, reaching whole populations, including those with low literacy rates and young people.

Nepal has taken a strong step to protect the health of its citizens,’ said Dr Tara Singh Bam, The Union’s technical advisor on tobacco control for Nepal. ‘Smokers are often unaware of the specific harms caused by tobacco use and can underestimate the risks to themselves and those around them.

Read more>

Posted in , , | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Uruguay Presents Defense Against Philip Morris Tobacco Lawsuit

Uruguay has presented a 500 page document to defend itself against an international lawsuit challenging the country’s tough tobacco packaging regulations. The claim was brought by Philip Morris, the global tobacco giant, at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington DC…

On October 13, 2014, Paul Reichler, a lawyer with Foley Hoag, in Washington DC, responded on behalf of the Uruguayan government, citing the country’s obligations under the World Health Organisation’s 2005 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

We will fight because it is our right and duty as a government to protect our citizens’ health,” Silvina Echarte Acevedo, the legal adviser leading the Uruguayan ministry of public health’s case, told the Independent newspaper. “They are bullying us because we are small. This is like David and Goliath.” (Uruguay’s annual gross domestic product is $53 billion, less than that of Philip Morris which took in $80 billion last year)

Read Full Article>

Posted in , , , | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

32 Schools “Free From Tobacco Money”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Megan Arendt

Office: 202-659-4310

Email: arendtm@ash.org

ASH CERTIFIES 32 COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES “FREE FROM TOBACCO MONEY”

In Honor of Their Divestment from Tobacco Interests

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 12, 2014 –Action on Smoking & Health (ASH) announced today that 32 colleges and universities are being certified “Free from Tobacco Money” in honor of their divestment from tobacco interests. This certification is also awarded in recognition of American Education Week.  For the full list of those being certified, please visit http://ash.org/tobacco-free-schools/Certification

In 2005, the tobacco industry spent more than $1 million a day sponsoring events and giveaways targeting college students. Tobacco companies heavily target young adults ages 18 to 21 through a variety of marketing activities—such as music and sporting events, bar promotions, college marketing programs, college scholarships, and parties—because they know it is a critical time period for solidifying a tobacco addiction. Clearly, it works – in 2010, 24.8% of college students categorized themselves as “current smokers,” far higher than the national prevalence for adults (18.1%).

Smoking continues to kill more Americans than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death worldwide. Left unchecked, tobacco use will kill 1 billion people in the 21st century.

“Universities should not profit from tobacco addictions and death,” said Laurent Huber, Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health. “The money students spend bettering themselves should not be invested in projects that have such a negative impact on the health of students and of people around the world. By divesting from tobacco funds, these schools are doing their part in the fight against tobacco.”  

ASH awards this certification in gratitude and acknowledgement of the commitment these colleges and universities have made to stand with health, and ASH encourages schools that have not divested to consider divestment as a way to fight the tobacco epidemic.

##

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

 

Posted in , , , | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Education before Tobacco Profits

The most recent data shows that the tobacco industry spent more than $1 million a day sponsoring events and giveaways that target college students. Tobacco companies heavily target young adults (ages 18 to 21) through a variety of marketing activities—such as music and sporting events, bar promotions, college marketing programs, college scholarships, and parties—because they know it is a critical time period for solidifying a tobacco addiction.

Clearly, this tactic works – many young adults start to smoke in college. Almost 40% of smokers either began smoking (11.0%) or became regular smokers (28.0%) after starting college.  In 2010, 24.8% of college students categorized themselves as “current smokers.” Read more here>and here>.

The awful part about this is that tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death globally. In the U.S. alone, about 480,000 Americans are killed each year; this equates to more than 20% of all deaths.

Many Americans believe that the war on tobacco has been won, but the fact is, the number of smokers is climbing globally. Unless more is done, the tobacco death toll in the 21st century is expected to be 1 billion.

CertificationThere are several things colleges and universities can do to help combat the tobacco epidemic. ASH encourages universities to divest their funds from any tobacco interests. This means that no university funds are used to invest in companies that make money from tobacco.

Divestment is not an idea unique to colleges and universities. Seven states (Maryland, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Vermont, Minnesota, and California) have divested, as have many cities, towns, and counties. One country, Norway, even divested their entire government pension fund – a $2 billion investment. Read more about divestment at the state and local level in our Implementation Guide>.

Universities should NOT profit from tobacco addictions, diseases, and deaths. Aside from the public health implications stated above, the tobacco industry limits development, negatively impacts the environment, and utilizes child labor. The money students spend on their education should not be invested in projects that have such a clearly negative impact around the world.

ASH encourages schools that have not divested to consider divestment as a way to fight the tobacco epidemic.

ASH applauds the colleges and universities that are doing their part to protect the health of their students and the world by keeping their school “Free from Tobacco Money”!

See our list of certified “Free from Tobacco Money” colleges and universities here.

Posted in , | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Philip Morris sues the EU over Tobacco Products Directive

Subsidiaries of Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI) (NYSE/Euronext Paris: PM) today obtained a green light from an English Court to challenge the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU) before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Key questions regarding the Directive’s validity will be referred to the CJEU as ordered by Mr. Justice Turner during a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Read More>

Posted in , , | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two FCTC Parties emphasize trade over saving lives from tobacco

WTO members meeting as the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council on 28–29 October 2014 responded to the latest developments on plain packaging for tobacco products, exchanged views on innovation, and heard about plans to make it easier to make sense of the huge amount of information they have shared with each other in the WTO.

They also continued to discuss whether legal disputes should be heard on intellectual property issues when the agreement has not been breached — known as “non-violation” disputes. In this and some other issues their positions remained broadly unchanged.

Meanwhile, some called for a review of technical assistance that considers the actual impact of the assistance.

Read More>

Posted in , , | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

In a first, Mass. town may prohibit tobacco sales

The Central Massachusetts town of Westminster would become the first community in the state, and perhaps the nation, to ban all tobacco sales under a proposal made public Monday that regulators say is designed to improve health, especially among the young.

Draft regulations posted on the town’s website would prohibit sales of products containing tobacco or nicotine, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and even electronic cigarettes, which use batteries to heat nicotine-laced liquid, producing a vapor that is inhaled.

The plan has infuriated local store owners, who are circulating petitions to block the action, saying it would drive them out of business and simply send people to nearby communities for their tobacco products.

A ban such as the one under consideration in Westminster represents the next frontier in the campaign to curb tobacco use, which is already prohibited in all Massachusetts workplaces, including restaurants and bars. It is already illegal to sell tobacco products to minors, and some communities have banned smoking in public parks.

Read more>

Posted in , , | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Results! Tobacco Treaty Success

The latest round of negotiations for the global tobacco treaty, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), held in Moscow ended this past Saturday, October 18, 2014. Government Delegates from 178 countries and the European Union representing  nearly 90 percent of the world’s people gathered to confront one of the world’s deadliest ever epidemics. Tobacco use has killed 100 million people in the 20th century and, if trends do not change, will be responsible for the deaths of 1 billion people this century. Most of those projected deaths will occur in low and middle-income countries, where the tobacco industry has shifted its efforts to recruit new smokers. COP6-ash1

ASH played a major role in ensuring that these rounds of negotiations were successful by coordinating and leading the work of the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA), an alliance of more than 500 non-governmental organizations from more than 100 countries dedicated to ending the global tobacco epidemic.

The outcomes of the week in Moscow will save hundreds of millions of lives if governments work to implement them immediately.

A key outcome of the week was the adoption of guidelines that will assist governments in their efforts to apply taxes on tobacco products more effectively. It is generally accepted that raising the price of tobacco products, including through tax increases, is the most effective way to cut tobacco usage, and to discourage young people from trying smoking.

One recent study found that tripling the excise tax on tobacco worldwide would reduce smoking by 1/3, avoid over 200 million premature deaths, and raise US$100 billion more in revenue.

COP6-ash2The Guidelines that were just adopted recommend that countries establish coherent long-term policies on their tobacco taxation structure. They are based on the principle that countries “should implement the simplest and most efficient system that meets their public health and fiscal needs, and taking into account their national circumstances.”

ASH’s Executive Director, who also leads the FCA stated that at the end of the treaty negotiations “Countries that are Parties to the FCTC have been working on guidelines for four years. Meanwhile, South Africa, Brazil, France, the Philippines and the United Kingdom are just some of the countries that have raised tobacco taxes and reduced smoking and the diseases and deaths that it causes”.  He also added that, “Other countries must now follow suit, if we are to have any hope of the world reaching the 30 percent tobacco use reduction target by 2025.”

ASH will continue to coordinate the international coalition in order to accelerate the implementation of the global tobacco treaty in order to prevent millions of unnecessary deaths caused by tobacco.

For more information about ASH’s work around the treaty please visit http://ash.org/programs/tobacco-treaty/ 

Posted in , , , | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Malaysia Defends Tobacco Control in TPP & FCTC

Almost 200 countries signed the World Health Organisation’s Tobacco Control Convention and are obliged to take measures to curb tobacco use.

But the industry has hit back. A big tobacco company, Philip Morris, has taken Uruguay and Australia to tribunals under bilateral investment treaties, claiming billions of dollars in compensation for the two countries’ measures to have big warning signs and small or no brand logos on cigarette packets.

Under trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), companies can similarly sue governments, claiming loss of profits resulting from policy measures. At the World Trade Organisation, cases are also being taken against countries for their tobacco control measures.

Now for the good news. Many governments are fighting back against the Big Tobacco onslaught, with Malaysia taking a lead role on two important fronts: the Tobacco Control Convention and the TPPA.

Read Full Article>

Posted in , , | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. floats cutting tobacco from part of Pacific trade pact -sources

By Krista Hughes

WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (Reuters) – The United States has floated excluding tobacco products from a key section of a 12-nation Pacific trade deal and signaled it may present a formal proposal to trading partners at talks in Australia, sources briefed on the negotiations said.

Dropping tobacco from the investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS, section of the Trans-Pacific Partnership would prevent tobacco companies taking action against any TPP government under those legal protections, for example over health care measures.

Marlboro maker Philip Morris International is challenging Australia’s plain packaging laws, which ban branded cigarette packs, under the country’s investment treaty with Hong Kong, arguing that the laws breach intellectual property rights.

One source, who has knowledge of the negotiations but asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the discussions, said the United States had floated the idea of a carve-out for tobacco under ISDS among senior TPP officials.

No language had yet been circulated, but the United States signaled it could formally present a proposal during TPP meetings that are under way in Australia, the source said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative said it did not expect to present such a plan and countries were still debating how to tackle tobacco-related public health issues in the TPP.

“The United States has not tabled any new U.S. proposal on tobacco products and is still engaged on congressional and stakeholder consultation on an appropriate approach. We do not expect to table a new proposal in Australia,” he said.

An industry representative said a U.S. suggestion to carve out tobacco from ISDS had also been read by a non-U.S. TPP country to sources who are following the negotiations.

TPP chief negotiators, from countries including Japan, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico and Malaysia, are currently gathered in Canberra and trade ministers will meet in Sydney for three days of talks starting Oct. 25.

Australia’s packaging laws, which also face a World Trade Organization challenge, are being closely watched by other countries, including Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, which are mulling or introducing similar steps.

The United States said in 2013 it supported including a general exception for health regulations, including on tobacco, in the TPP and requiring government-to-government talks between health authorities before any ISDS challenge over tobacco.

A carve-out would strengthen those protections further, but stop short of a call by Malaysia and anti-smoking groups to completely exclude tobacco from the TPP. Excluding tobacco would allow countries to keep tariffs on U.S. tobacco products.

Any different treatment for tobacco risks a backlash in the United States. State lawmakers from Kentucky, a major U.S. tobacco-producing state, and the North Carolina Agribusiness Council have warned that excluding tobacco would hurt exporters, jobs and the regional economy.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had raised concerns with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman about the impact such an “unprecedented approach” would have on jobs, a spokesman for McConnell said. (Reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

 

Michael F. Dolan, J.D.

Legislative Representative

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Desk  202.624.6891

Fax    202.624.8973

Cell    202.437.2254

Posted in , | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

McConnell seeks to protect tobacco industry in trade deal

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pressing the Obama administration to protect his state’s tobacco industry in a trade deal.

McConnell is pressuring U.S. negotiators to ensure that tobacco companies can take part in the dispute settlement portion of the trade deal, with talks scheduled next week on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact with several countries in Asia and Latin America.

Read the full article here>

Posted in , | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where do your candidates stand on tobacco contributions?

The ten campaigns that accepted the most tobacco money are listed below. These ten campaigns combined accepted over $500,000 in campaign contributions from tobacco corporations. As you can see, both parties and eight states are represented. This is a pervasive problem in politics. Want to read more about tobacco campaign contributions or curious where your representative’s stand? Read our blog>

or check out our 2014 Tobacco Campaign Contribution Map.

Rank Candidate Office Amount
1 Boehner, John (R-OH) House $110,000
2 Hagan, Kay R (D-NC) Senate $87,485
3 McConnell, Mitch (R-KY) Senate $62,450
4 Cantor, Eric (R-VA) House $44,400
5 Warner, Mark (D-VA) Senate $40,815
6 Barr, Andy (R-KY) House $37,610
7 Cornyn, John (R-TX) Senate $37,434
8 Posey, Bill (R-FL) House $31,362
9 McCarthy, Kevin (R-CA) House $27,500
10 Kingston, Jack (R-GA) House $25,350

**Data from Center for Responsive Politics, accurate as of Oct. 9, 2014**

Posted in , , , , | Tagged | Leave a comment

Tobacco Corporations Buy Political Influence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Megan Arendt

Office: 202-659-4310

Email: arendtm@ash.org

TOBACCO CORPORATIONS BUY POLITICAL INFLUENCE

Big Tobacco Contributes Over $1.6 Million Annually to Federal Candidates

WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 8, 2014 – The tobacco industry has always been a major player in congressional campaigns, but Action on Smoking and Health’s 2014 Campaign Contribution Map shows just how pervasive tobacco money is in politics. Action on Smoking & Health (ASH), an organization devoted to the fight against the domestic and global tobacco epidemic, produced the map, which allows you to click on your home district and see how much money your Member of Congress and Senators have accepted this election cycle.

Tobacco corporations contribute over $1.6 million annually to federal candidates. 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. The World Health Organization has discussed tobacco industry interference in the past. “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.”

This is a problem across political parties and across states. Politicians on both sides of the aisle accept tobacco industry campaign contributions, and 46 states have federal candidates who accepted campaign funds from the tobacco industry in the 2013-2014 election cycle.  Dr. Alfred Munzer, Chairman of the Board of ASH said, “Industries that threaten public health should not control public health policy. No politician should owe favors to tobacco corporations.”

The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first global treaty on public health, calls for governments to limit industry interference in public health policy. The guidelines for implementing FCTC Article 5.3 specifically suggest  “prohibiting tobacco industry contributions to political parties, candidates, or campaigns.”

“Even though the United States has not yet ratified the FCTC, ASH encourages politicians to voluntarily comply with the treaty’s life-saving guidelines. Refusing tobacco industry campaign contributions is one very important step that politicians can take in the fight against tobacco,” said ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber.

See which politicians have already taken this essential step and which politicians are still accepting campaign financing from the tobacco industry on ASH’s 2014 Campaign Contribution Map, available online today:

http://ash.org/map/

##

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

Posted in , , , , | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

USTR Informally Floats ISDS Tobacco Carveout With Some TPP Countries

U.S. trade officials have reached out to some other Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries to informally float the idea of excluding tobacco-related challenges from being brought under the deal’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, according to informed sources. This move signals the United States may be ready to bring its position on this issue closer to that of public health groups, which have demanded tobacco be completely carved out from the agreement.

Read full article>

Posted in , , | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Campaign Contributions

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. political map

This is not a problem for one party; politicians on both sides of the aisle accept tobacco industry campaign contributions. This is not a problem for just one state; 46 states have candidates who accepted some campaign funds from the tobacco industry. The only states that have no state level candidates that accepted funds from tobacco corporations during the 2013-2014 election are Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, DC. Industries that threaten public health should not control public health policy.

On a positive note, this spring, in honor of World No Tobacco Day, ASH certified 193 Senators and Congressman as “Free From Tobacco Money,” an award given to those representatives that have not accepted any campaign contributions from tobacco in the last 10 years. Read more here>

The tobacco industry has always been a major player in congressional campaigns, and tomorrow, the ASH Tobacco Campaign Contribution Map highlights just how pervasive tobacco money is in politics.

Check the ASH Tobacco Campaign Contribution Map to see how much your state representative has received from tobacco corporations in the 2013-2014 election, and then write, tweet or call your representative and tell them why it’s important that they refuse tobacco funding.

Not sure who your representative is? Find out here>

Posted in , | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stubbing Out the Tobacco Industry’s Abuse of Trade Agreements

The tobacco industry has a long history of flexing its muscles, namely in the area of investor protection schemes, against governments in the name of protecting its own market. TTIP is an opportunity to set a good example for 21st century trade agreements by, at the minimum, recognizing the unique dangers presented by the tobacco industry, and ensuring that measures aimed at reducing the use of tobacco products cannot be subject to investor-state challenge.

Manufactured tobacco products are unique; they are the only consumer products that kill when used as intended. Without effective tobacco control policies to reduce consumption, tobacco products will kill one billion people in this century. No other consumer product kills 1 in 2 of its long-term users. That’s why 184 parties have ratified or signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – the world’s only public health treaty.

Countries across the globe are adopting tobacco control policies to protect their citizens’ health. In response, the tobacco industry is abusing investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in trade and investment agreements to sue and threaten countries over lawfully adopted, non-discriminatory tobacco control policies. Uruguay and Australia are both defending such policies against costly industry investment disputes, even after the industry comprehensively lost domestic challenges. These cases undermine the right of nations to protect the health of their citizens, and bully other nations into inaction.

Read Full Article>

Posted in , , | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Putin snub, US will skip global tobacco summit hosted by Russia

In a shot at Russian President Vladimir Putin, the United States will not send a delegation to Moscow this month to participate in global health talks that hold major implications for the tobacco and burgeoning e-cigarette industries.

Hosting the World Health Organization summit is a point of pride for Russia, and it is widely rumored that Putin will launch the event with a speech during the opening session of the meetings.

The decision to sit out the weeklong Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) meetings is based on U.S. displeasure over Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine in recent months, said Bill Hall, director of the news division at the Department of Health and Human Services…

“There definitely is some concern,” said Chris Bostic, deputy director of policy for Action on Smoking and Health, a group that advocates for global tobacco controls. “It is a shame that they will not be there in person.”

Read more>

Posted in , , , | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tobacco Deaths & Taxes

In the past, the United States has been a leader in tobacco control. For the last 15 years, though, the U.S. has been falling behind as other countries have moved to protect their people from tobacco addiction and death.

For example, when it comes to tobacco prices, there are huge inconsistencies in America. The average cost of a pack of 20 cigarettes in the United States is $6.36, but this varies widely by state. A pack of Marlboro’s costs $10.08 in New York, but only $4.20 in Georgia. See more about state tobacco taxes>.

There is a direct correlation between the price of cigarettes and willingness of children to take up the habit.WHO taxes

The 2014 Surgeon General’s report called for an increase in cigarette prices to at least $10 a pack. Only one state, New York, currently meets that goal. The World Bank recommends that at least 67% of the retail price of tobacco products comes from taxes. Even the highest taxes in the U.S., in New York City and Chicago, do not reach that goal. Taxes in those cities are about 65%, but the average in the U.S. is 44.2%. Read more here>

This issue is so important that the World Health Organization chose to focus on it for World No Tobacco Day 2014. Increasing the price of tobacco products is the single most effective way to prevent initiation among nonsmokers and to reduce consumption.

On average, raising tobacco taxes to increase retail prices by 10% is estimated to reduce tobacco use by 4% in high-income countries and by about 5% in low- and middle-income countries. WHO calculates that if all countries increased taxes on cigarette packs by 50%, there would be 49 million fewer smokers (38 million fewer adult smokers and 11 million fewer young future smokers), and this would avert 11 million deaths from smoking. To learn more read the WHO brochure on Tobacco Taxes>

The United States should learn from the best practices on tobacco taxes in other countries. In London, a pack of Marlboro’s costs $14. In Norway, it costs $15.11. In Australia, within the next five years, it will cost about $20 to buy a pack of cigarettes. The U.S. is lagging behind on tobacco taxes. See more about international tobacco taxes in the Tobacco Atlas>

Report CoverThis is an area where states and localities can take action – each government is responsible for the health of its citizens and should do its best to protect against the harms of tobacco. In order to meet the goals set out in the Surgeon General’s report and by the World Bank, and more importantly, in order to save lives, the United States should learn from international best practices and implement higher tobacco taxes.

To read more about the lessons U.S. states can learn from international best practices on tobacco control, please read our new report: The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: An Implementation Guide for U.S. State and Local Officials.

State and local officials interested in sample legislation and other tools can also visit our database at http://ash.org/usfctcimplementationguide/.

Posted in , , | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
  • Recent Tweets