New Jersey reached a deal to obtain almost $92 million for its general fund by pledging the remainder of its revenue from the national tobacco settlement to investors. The bolstered payment pledge made trading prices on bonds linked to the agreement more than triple from March 3.
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.