On Twitter, e-cigarette ads spread like secondhand smoke

Several states have enacted laws limiting where e-cigarettes can be used — after citing public health concerns — but as no federal law has been created to curtail e-cigarette advertising, companies are resorting to tactics employed by the heyday of the Marlboro Man. But this time, their message is wafting even farther in the wind of social media, according to the study.

“As public health researchers our job is to figure out whether people are seeing messages that might lead them to make unhealthy decisions,” said Kar-Hai Chu, PhD, a researcher scientist of preventative medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, who authored the study. “If an e-cigarette tweet reaches underage users and makes them curious about trying e-cigarettes, that is something we would want to know. The results of the study could help provide guidelines and advice for many potential regulations.”

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Potentially pivotal suit pits smokers vs. Big Tobacco

A decade after a group of American smokers sued Philip Morris USA to try to force the cigarette maker to pay for lung cancer screenings, the case will finally be heard by a jury.

Smokers from Massachusetts allege in the class-action lawsuit that Philip Morris manufactured a defective cigarette knowing it could have made a safer product with fewer carcinogens.

Read more>

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The True Cost of Smoking by State

WalletHub’s analysts calculated the potential monetary losses — including the cumulative cost of a cigarette pack per day over several decades, health care expenditures, income losses and other costs — brought on by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.

WalletHub estimated the financial cost of smoking in the U.S. to be roughly $1.6 million per smoker over a lifetime.

States with the Lowest Smoking Costs States with the Highest Smoking Costs
1 Louisiana 42 District of Columbia
2 Kentucky 43 New Jersey
3 Missouri 44 Washington
4 West Virginia 45 Minnesota
5 North Carolina 46 Rhode Island
6 Georgia 47 Connecticut
7 Tennessee 48 Hawaii
8 South Carolina 49 Alaska
9 Mississippi 50 Massachusetts
10 Alabama 51 New York

Key Findings

  • The out-of-pocket cost per smoker is $115,214 over a lifetime. Smokers in New York will pay two times more than smokers in Missouri.
  • The financial opportunity cost per smoker is $1,089,471 over a lifetime. Smokers in New York will pay two times more than smokers in Missouri.
  • Each smoker will incur an average of $220,855 in income loss over a lifetime. Smokers in Mississippi will lose the least, $161,013, which is 2 times less than in Maryland, the state that will lose the most.
  • Each smoker will incur an average of $164,876 in smoking-related health-care costs over a lifetime. Smokers in Massachusetts will pay two times more than smokers in Kentucky.


Read full report here>

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New Global Anti-tobacco Leadership


Contact: Megan Arendt


New Global Anti-tobacco Leadership

After twelve years of success, ASH passes FCA baton to HealthBridge

WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 20, 2016 – After more than a decade of successful leadership and myriad public health victories, Laurent Huber of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in the U.S. passed the leadership of the Framework Convention Alliance on Tobacco Control (FCA) to Francis Thompson of HealthBridge Canada. The change was effective January 1, 2016.

The FCA was formed during negotiations of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to be the voice of the global public health community, and it has been lauded for its role in achieving a strong international treaty to combat the tobacco epidemic. Huber was the first director of the FCA, and he shepherded the FCA through negotiations and implementation of the first global public health treaty. Thompson has served as FCA policy director for several years.

“I regard the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as vitally important for global health and, without a doubt, the role of the FCA in motivating, organizing and coordinating the input of civil society into the treaty-making process was crucial to its success,” stated Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General, World Health Organization, 1998-2003.

The FCTC was conceived at a time when multinational tobacco companies were moving into low income countries in earnest, seeing potential profits from populations who, unlike in the high income counties, had not been educated on the dangers of smoking. The World Health Organization estimates that, without dramatic changes, tobacco will claim one billion lives in the 21st century. The FCTC is meant to be that dramatic change.

Early in the FCTC negotiations, ASH made the decision to commit itself to go beyond domestic US tobacco control and confront Big Tobacco on the world stage. At the time, there was no global civil society movement to combat tobacco. The FCA was formed to combine the voices of dozens (later hundreds) of public health groups to demand strong global action. ASH played a critical role in forming the informal coalition. FCA was later incorporated in Geneva, Switzerland in 2003, with Mr. Huber as its director. Today, FCA includes over 500 organizations from over 100 countries.

The FCA became a broad civil society coalition widely recognized by governments, non-governmental organizations, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations for its vital role in shaping the FCTC, the first global public health treaty negotiated under the auspices of the WHO.

During the past 15 years, the global tobacco control community experienced several successes.

• The FCTC entered into force on February 27, 2005 in near record time for a UN treaty. The FCTC now has 180 Parties and 168 Signatories.

Guidelines for implementation of 8 Articles of the FCTC were developed and adopted: Article 5.3 (Industry Interference), Article 6 (Tax and Price Measures), Article 8 (Protection from Exposure to Tobacco Smoke), Article 9/10 (Tobacco Regulation and Disclosure), Article 11 (Packaging and Labelling), Article 12 (Communication), Article 13 (Advertising/sponsorship), and Article 14 (Cessation).

• The Protocol to Combat the Illicit Trade of Tobacco Products was negotiated and adopted.

• Many countries have effectively implemented FCTC measures, resulting in millions of humans being protected from tobacco smoke, tobacco advertising, and their associated harms.

• Tobacco was a central aspect of the UN High Level Meeting on the Treatment and Prevention of NCDs, ensuring that addressing the tobacco epidemic was a central element of the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Strategy.

• ASH and FCA worked together to influence the development of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that have replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), resulting in the integration of the FCTC and tobacco control in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

“I had the privilege to work closely with the FCA through the development of the FCTC and to witness firsthand the expertise they bring to the process of negotiating and adopting complex policy.  The importance of having non-government and government agencies work together cannot be underestimated, and FCA understands very well how to influence governments to create the best possible policies,” said President Tábare Vázquez, the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, 2005 to 2010 and 2015 to present.

ASH will continue to work with the FCA and its incoming director with the aim of accelerating the implementation of the life-saving measures of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).




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

Follow us on Twitter @ASHOrg and Facebook

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Kids Overexposed to Cigarettes in Video Games

Hundreds of video games come out every year. Avid gamers have at least 326 news ones to look forward to in 2016.

If previous years are any indication, many of these games will contain images of cigarettes and tobacco use. Experts worry they could lead young people, who clock hours a day playing video games, to start smoking.

Read on>

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First Singapore, now Norway calls for tobacco sales ban on those born after 2000

January 2016: The president of the Norwegian Medical Association, Marit Hermansen, has called for a ban on the sale of tobacco products to anyone born after 2000 as a first step to create a smoke-free society by 2035.

According to Hermansen “It shouldn’t be forbidden to smoke, but we want young people to not get started with tobacco.” If the goal was to prevent young people from picking up smoking, they should not be able to buy tobacco products when they come of age, she added. Hermansen said she believed it was possible to get political support for the proposal.

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Japan Tobacco aims to become world’s leading merchant of death

Mitsuomi Koizumi, 58, president of Japan Tobacco Inc., discussed how his company has evolved since its privatization in 1985 as well as its future strategy, in an interview with Yomiuri Shimbun.

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U.K. Approves E-Cigarette Prescriptions To Help People Quit Smoking

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s drug regulators have given the go-ahead for a British American Tobacco electronic-cigarette vaping device to be sold as a quit smoking medicine, the first such product to be given a drug license in the UK.

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Statement from ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber

Making Priorities into our RealityLH headshot - COP6

This year has been one filled with milestones for the public health and tobacco control communities.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), call on governments to strengthen the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Reducing tobacco deaths is now recognized on paper as a global priority; let’s make it a reality on the ground.

And as a first in trade history, tobacco is singled out as a unique product in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and countries in the Pacific Rim have the option to carve out the Investor State Dispute Mechanism (ISDS) for tobacco products.

These are major accomplishments, and it is clear that governments around the world are taking a stand. They want to take action and prevent the preventable in the 21st century: a billion unnecessary, premature deaths and the loss of trillions of dollars to the global economy caused by tobacco use. 

However, it is not enough to recognize that tobacco is a major problem in UN settings and in international trade negotiations.  To make a world free from the harms caused by tobacco a reality, governments need to take action on the ground and fully commit to implementing the measures that will help prevent the scourge of tobacco.

The tobacco industry continues to be a very profitable industry. The global number of deaths attributable to tobacco use is still rising, and unfortunately, smoking prevalence is increasing among the most vulnerable populations, the poor and the disenfranchised.

But now that the world has recognized on paper that addressing the tobacco-related epidemic is a priority, it is up to all of us to hold our governments accountable to what they have agreed.  We need to encourage governments to make the right choice: prioritizing health over tobacco industry profits.

In 2016 we will need to take action, here in the U.S. and abroad, with our friends all over the world, to make sure that reducing tobacco deaths is a national priority.  The world is facing numerous challenges, some that are very difficult to overcome, but this is one development challenge that the world can achieve.

Tell your local government, as well as your national government, to allocate resources to implement the life saving measures we know can work to reduce tobacco use: increase taxes on tobacco products, ban all forms of advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products, protect everyone from exposure to tobacco smoke, place large pictorial health warnings on tobacco packages and consider standardized packaging. Governments can even consider further actions, such as reducing the content of nicotine to make the product less addictive and seriously restricting the sale and trading of tobacco products.

When it comes to one of the principal causes of death in the world – tobacco use – we know what to do.

We don’t have to invent a cure; we just have to implement it.

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2015 was a Very Bad Year for the Tobacco Industry

And it’s only going to get worse for them.

I was asked two weeks ago to blog about my end-of-year thoughts. Something told me to procrastinate, and I am glad I did. Within 24 hours before putting fingers to keyboard, good news came from afar. First, after several years of litigation, Australia has emerged victorious in its trade dispute with Philip Morris International over plain – or standardized – packaging. And on the same day, France announced that it too would implement tobacco packaging without industry branding.

As important as these outcomes are, they are merely piling on at the end of a year that has seen stunning defeats for the tobacco industry. It will never again be “business as usual” for an industry that kills half of its long-term customers. There is not the space to list every victory for public health, but to highlight a few: 1

• Nova Scotia, Alberta and New Brunswick[1] became the first jurisdictions in the world to ban all tobacco flavorings, including menthol. Two other provinces and several other countries will follow in 2016.

• Standardized packaging was announced in the United Kingdom, Ireland and France,[2] the first countries to follow Australia. Norway, Hungary, New Zealand, Sweden, Finland and Canada will likely follow next year.

• Nepal implemented the largest graphic health warnings in history, occupying 90% of a cigarette pack.

These are important incremental victories, chipping away at the core business of Big Tobacco. But 2015 also saw two fundamental changes in the way the world addresses tobacco products, changes that will have a profound and growing impact on the tobacco epidemic. And ASH was pleased to be at the center of both.

1. In September, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, the blueprint for ending poverty by 2030. Unlike the previous set of goals, tobacco is front and center, and the world now formally recognizes that tobacco consumption stunts economic development and ruins families, in the U.S. and around the world.

2. Negotiations for the largest free trade agreement in history, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, concluded with an exception preventing tobacco corporations from suing governments over anti-tobacco measures (as PMI did to Australia under a different agreement). This is unprecedented in trade history.

Development and trade are new arenas for the public health community, and we caught the tobacco industry off-guard. The ramifications will take time to manifest, but they are inevitable. The days of the tobacco industry are numbered.

However, we are far from a final victory. In 2011, ASH made the decision to commit resources to fight tobacco in the worlds of development and trade. We will continue the pressure, and capitalize on these victories. But we are also investigating new “soft spots” in Big Tobacco’s armor. In 2016, we look forward to progress on a range of initiatives:

• Criminal liability – Big tobacco’s actions easily meet the definition of manslaughter, but no prosecutor has yet brought them to justice.

• Human rights – All individuals have the right to life and health. The tobacco industry continuously violates these rights.

• Tobacco-Free Generation – Tasmania is considering raising the age to purchase tobacco by one year, every year, eventually phasing out tobacco from society.

• Divestment – Too many institutional investors, including governments, create a conflict of interest by investing in tobacco companies.

• Pharmacies – It is a travesty that retailers devoted to health sell tobacco products at one end of the store while at the other end selling drugs to treat tobacco-related illnesses.

The tobacco wars are not yet won, but we can see the end. Your grandchildren will find it curious that it took so long.

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Also in 2016, look for our campaign finance map. Many of U.S. elected representatives take campaign money from Big Tobacco, which is inevitably a conflict of interest when those same representatives legislate laws about tobacco control. Check back for an updated campaign map in 2016.


[1] As of 1/1/16.

[2] All three will come into force in 2016.

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Philip Morris loses case against Australia’s tobacco plain packaging law

Cigarette company Philip Morris has suffered another defeat in its long-running bid to overturn Australia’s plain packaging laws.

An arbitration tribunal based in Singapore has issued a unanimous decision agreeing with Australia’s position that it has no jurisdiction to hear Philip Morris’s claim.

The Public Health Association of Australia described the result as the “best Christmas present for public health”.

Read on>

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Good news from our friends in the UK

ASH (UK) news release:

France commits to go ahead with standardised ‘plain’ cigarette packs as Big Tobacco’s UK legal challenge draws to a close

The tobacco industry’s challenge to the UK’s standardised tobacco packaging regulations is drawing to a close today and a ruling is expected to be made by the judge, the Hon. Mr Justice Green, in the New Year. This follows the commitment by the French parliament yesterday to proceed with standardised packaging, and the announcement that the Philip Morris challenge to the Australian government on tobacco plain packaging under a 1993 investment treaty between Australia and Hong Kong has failed. [1]

Standardised ‘plain’ cigarette packaging is now spreading round the world, starting with Australia, followed by the UK and Ireland, with New Zealand, Norway, Hungary, Sweden, Finland, Turkey, Bulgaria and Canada following on behind. Australia went first, implementing in 2012, the UK, Ireland and France will be next from 20th May 2016.

Read on>

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Human Rights Day 2015

December 10th is recognized worldwide as Human Rights Day. It commemorates the anniversary of the day that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. The UDHR and other human rights treaties, both international and regional, protect myriad rights around the world, including the rights of women and children, and the right to life and health.

People don’t often think of tobacco as a human rights issue, but they should.

When people do think of tobacco as a human rights issue, the plight of tobacco farm workers often comes to mind first. Tobacco workers – often children – are exposed to nicotine and dangerous pesticides, and often work in deplorable conditions. Changes need to be made.

However, tobacco farming is not the only connection between tobacco and human rights.

Miao Yunfei working in his family's tobacco fields. In Huili County, Liangshan Prefecture, Sichuan Province, China. Photo credit: Yung Chang. 2011, Source CHW8-promostill-2, Author Eye Steel Film from Canada

Miao Yunfei working in his family’s tobacco fields. In Huili County, Liangshan Prefecture, Sichuan Province, China. Photo credit: Yung Chang. 2011, Source CHW8-promostill-2, Author Eye Steel Film from Canada

ASH is investigating the possibility of holding tobacco corporations responsible for tobacco-related deaths under human rights laws. These charges – for example, a violation of the right to life or right to health, among many others – would be levied against governments for not protecting their citizens from Big Tobacco.

There are several options for utilizing human rights laws to enforce tobacco control.

Some legal systems have mechanisms to hold the government and corporations responsible. In other systems, a human rights case would be directed solely against a government, but then that government would be required (or in some cases, recommended) to implement and enforce tobacco control laws within their countries, for example, by implementing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

One option is pursuing a case under a regional human rights treaty, like in the Inter-American system, European system, or African system. You can read more about a potential case in the Inter-American system here>.  Other options include pursuing recommendations from other international treaty bodies, such as the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, or pursuing a human rights case in a country that incorporates treaty obligations into its national constitution. There are many paths to choose from, but all of them require that tobacco be treated as a human rights issue.

HR day 2

Here at ASH, we share the wish of Former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan- “It is my aspiration that health finally will be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for.” With our tobacco and human rights program, we are working to ensure that life, free from the death and diseases caused by tobacco, is a human right that can, and will be, fought for.

Read more about our human rights program here>.

Join the conversation about human rights on twitter with #HumanRightsDay and make sure to tag @ASHOrg.

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Criminal Cases about Consumer Products

The tobacco epidemic continues to spread around the world. Tobacco is unique – no other product kills half of its consumers when used exactly as intended.  If tobacco products were released as new products today, they would quickly be banned, and civil and criminal cases would be brought against tobacco corporations for the harms caused by tobacco.

Below are several other consumer products that have resulted in criminal cases. While each of these cases represents a terrible loss of life, all of them pale in comparison to the number of lives claimed by tobacco.


The Pinto Case State v. Ford Motor Co., Cause No. 11-431 (1980)

In 1978, three teenage girls driving in a Ford Pinto were hit from behind on Highway 33 in northern Indiana. Within moments their car burst into flames and all three of the girls were killed. An Indiana grand jury voted unanimously to indict Ford Motor Company on three counts of reckless homicide. Ford was accused of recklessly designing, manufacturing and marketing the Pinto’s unsafe fuel tank, in part because the corporation was aware of the design defects of the Pinto before production but did not rectify the problems.

  • Death toll – Between 27 to 180 consumers (reports differ). However, Ford sold approximately 2.2 million Pintos. Even at the high end of the estimates, the death toll is no more than .01% of consumers.
  • Outcome – NOT GUILTY
  • Lesson Learned – Corporations can be charged with criminal homicide in U.S. courts



BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill United States v. BP Exploration and Production, Inc. Court Docket Number: 2:12-CR-00292-SSVDEK.

In 2010, a spill from a broken oil well spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil, which ended up in the Gulf of Mexico and on the shorelines of several states. Eleven workers died during the explosion that triggered the spill. BP was charged and pled guilty to manslaughter, due to the fact that executives disregarded high-pressure readings right before the spill.

  • Death toll – 11 BP employees
  • OutcomeGUILTY
  • Lesson Learned – Corporations, and their executives, can be held criminally responsible for corporate manslaughter.


Peanut Butter

The Peanut Butter Case United States of America v. Parnell, Case No, 1:13-CR-12-WLS

From 2008-2009, an outbreak of salmonella infections in the U.S. was linked to contaminated peanut butter. Rodent droppings, dead insects, a leaking roof, and broken roasting equipment were found to be behind the contaminated peanut butter. The former CEO of Peanut Corporation of America was found guilty of “knowingly selling tainted peanut butter.” In addition to imprisonment for the CEO, PCA is facing an $11.2 million dollar fine. On September 21, 2015, Parnell was sentenced to 28 years in prison, the harshest penalty on record related to food-borne illness. Read more about this case here>.

  • Death toll – 9 consumers killed, 20,000 sickened. The company manufactured about 2.5% of the nation’s peanut products and sickened or killed .006% of Americans.
  • Outcome GUILTY
  • Lesson learned – knowingly selling a deadly product should result in a fine and jail time for corporate executives.



Tobacco products kill more people than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined. In the United States, smoking is responsible for more than 440,000 deaths every year, about one in five of all deaths. Forty-two million American adults smoke; about half of them will die as a result.  As one state Supreme Court recently noted, cigarettes likely constitute “the most dangerous product lawfully sold” to consumers. Evans v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., 990 N.E.2d 997, 1019 (Mass 2013). The lethal consequences of smoking have been known to tobacco corporations for decades, yet they continue these activities, with full knowledge of the certainty of death to millions of consumers caused by the ordinary use of cigarettes.

  • Death toll 10 people die every minute from a tobacco-related disease. Left unchecked, tobacco use will kill 1 billion people this century.
  • Outcome – Tobacco companies are still marketing and selling their deadly products.
  • Lesson Learned -Tobacco corporations and their executives should be held criminally responsible for tobacco related deaths.


Corporations should be held responsible for the death and destruction caused by their products, especially when corporations knowingly advertise and sell deadly products, as is the case with Big Tobacco.

If you are interested in reading more about potential criminal liability for tobacco executives, read more on ASH’s website here>.

If you are interested in helping to fund the research that goes into the possibility of holding tobacco executives criminally liable, donate here>

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Video Exposé on a Deadly Consumer Product


Contact: Megan Arendt, 202-659-4310


Video Exposé on a Deadly Consumer Product

Action on Smoking & Health (ASH) releases parody video exposing #1 cause of preventable death

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 30, 2015 – ASH released a new video, Breaking News Broadcast, to draw attention to the ongoing disease and death caused by the tobacco epidemic.

Using a combination of humor and real facts, ASH provides a glimpse into the evening news report that would be streaming across every outlet if tobacco products were introduced to the market today. Society would be in an uproar. No other manufacturer can convince society to let them sell a product that will kill up to 50% of its consumers, consumers who are using the product exactly as intended.

No industry could market and legally sell a shirt, car, drink, or any other product that directly caused the societal damage that the tobacco industry’s products cause. $300 billion in economic costs for the US every year and 6 million people dying every year worldwide, from preventable diseases, cannot go unnoticed.

For example, a peanut butter executive recently received 28 years in prison for knowingly selling tainted products that killed 9 people and sickened up to 20,000. That pales in comparison to the death toll associated with tobacco products.

ASH intends this video to illustrate the often overlooked reality of tobacco products as addictive, deadly consumer products.

The Press Kit and video can be found here:

Thank you to everyone who supported this video through’s “Cause of the Month” program. For more information on joining the community of members who support ASH with their everyday online shopping, visit



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

Follow us on Twitter @ASHOrg and Facebook

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Obama’s Legacy on Tobacco

President Obama is moving to cement a significant legacy in the fight against smoking.

Despite Obama’s own struggles with cigarettes, many public health advocates see him as a champion on the issue, and a series of proposals in the waning months of his presidency could bolster his record.

Read on>

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Racial Politics Flavor Debate Over Banning Menthol Cigarettes

Lorillard Tobacco donated nearly four times as much to Republican candidates as to Democrats in the 2014 congressional elections. No surprise there — most businesses count on Republicans to hold the line on regulations and taxes.

But Lorillard made a striking exception for one set of Democrats: African Americans. It gave campaign cash to half of all black members of Congress, as opposed to just one in 38 non-black Democrats, according to an analysis by FairWarning of records from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Read on>

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ASH 2015 Tobacco Criminal Liability and Tobacco & Human Rights Report Card

ASH’s tobacco criminal liability program was created to investigate the possibility of holding tobacco corporations and their executives criminally liable for the millions of tobacco-related deaths. The tobacco and human rights program is related; it seeks to investigate the use of international and regional human rights bodies and treaties as a way to hold the tobacco industry responsible for human rights violations related to tobacco deaths around the world.

Criminal Liability KRS at WCTOH

– ASH attended the World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) where we presented the criminal liability and human rights programs on two different panels, one organized by ASH and one that we were invited to join by the Human Rights and Tobacco Control Network. In the closing plenary, in front of over 2,000 attendees from 100 countries, criminal liability was mentioned as a potential path forward. This is a significant step for the program; we passed the “straight face” test, and the tobacco control community views criminal liability as a viable option in the tobacco endgame.

– We also spent time following court cases that could be relevant to tobacco criminal liability. In July 2015, an important case was decided. The U.S. Probation Office recommended a life sentence for Stewart Parnell, the former CEO of Peanut Corporation of America, following his multiple felony conviction for “knowingly selling tainted peanut butter” that ended up killing nine people. The courts sentenced Parnell to 28 years in prison, the harshest penalty on record for a corporate officer related to food-borne illness. You can read more about how this case is important to tobacco here>.

Human Rights

– A journal article titled “Tobacco Industry Marketing: A Violation of Human Rights in Latin America” was written by ASH staff and published in the American Bar Association’s International Law News. That article was also selected for a feature on Best of the American Bar Association Sections in another ABA publication, GP Solo Magazine. ASIL

– ASH and our partners at the American Society of International Law and the American Cancer Society- Cancer Action Network hosted an event on Tobacco and International Law. The panelists, including ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber, discussed the possibility of tobacco as a violation of human rights treaties, in addition to the world’s first public health treaty (the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, FCTC), and how other international tools might be utilized to achieve the FCTC’s goals. You can watch a video of the panel discussion here>

2015 was a big year for these programs. Check back next month to see all of the exciting things happening in 2016! And, please consider supporting ASH in this crucial fight by making a donation today.

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2015 ASH Newspaper

Year end letter 2015_Page_1

Year end letter 2015_Page_2

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Breaking News Broadcast

Download Press Kit Here>

An exposé on one product causing death worldwide

As you saw in the video, Big Tobacco uses their super villain tactics to market and sell a deadly consumer product. Here are some life-saving strategies that ASH, together with your help, uses to work toward the end of the tobacco epidemic.


Super Villain           Life Saver



Legal Tactics

– Philip Morris, whose brands include Marlboro, is litigating against Australian and Uruguayan laws on cigarette packaging.

– Several countries, backed by Philip Morris, brought a dispute before the WTO against an Australian public health measure requiring tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging in the country.

Legal Strategies

– Criminal Liability: Working with legal experts to investigate potential criminal charges against tobacco executives and corporations.

– Human Rights Law: working with legal scholars and other partners to determine the best regional or international system to hear a case on tobacco as a human rights issue

– Successfully advocated for 2015 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) language that will block tobacco corporations from suing governments for implementing anti-tobacco regulations.

Press Release

Latest Update

o Continuing to advocate for a tobacco carve out in other trade agreements and existing bilateral trade agreements

Legitimizing Tobacco

– Providing donations to strategic organizations that will publicize their corporate support, in turn serving as strategic marketing for big tobacco

– Using the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a front group to influence public policy to their advantage.

– Providing campaign donations to U.S. state and local politicians to decrease the likelihood that those individuals will support public health measures that decrease the sale of tobacco

Click here for an example


Delegitimizing Tobacco

– Successfully advocated to include a tobacco use reduction Target in the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

o Working to ensure the SDG target is fully implemented across the globe, including in the U.S.

– Successfully advocated in 2015 to have the global community (via the UN) recognize tobacco taxation as a mechanism for achieving global development.

o Working to ensure that tobacco taxes are effectively implemented around the globe, including providing guidelines for the U.S.

– Working to ensure that a tobacco prevalence reduction Indicator is included in the last step of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2016

Marketing Tobacco

– The tobacco industry targets youth as “replacement smokers”, and they

– “Deliberately go out every day and try to kill, for their own profits, the poor around the world.” – Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City

Marketing Public Health

– Released case studies on effectively implementing smoke-free air laws, based on international successes

o Continuing to share the case studies online and among partners

– Publicized the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s work as a front group for big tobacco.

Huffington Post Blog

o Continuing to publicize atrocities of the tobacco industry, highlighting why the public health community must work together to stop the tobacco epidemic

– Flash Mob protest in Times Square


– In their own words, the tobacco industry is in the “nicotine delivery business.” They are always developing new ways to package nicotine, including e-cigarettes.


– Researching new ideas that could be key to the tobacco end-game strategy, for example tobacco divestment, the tobacco-free generation concept, and tobacco-free pharmacies.

Big Tobacco is working harder than ever to addict future generations to their deadly products.

You can help ASH change that! Become a life-saver by donating today.

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ASH 2015 Trade Report Card

Last week, after many years of painful negotiation, the final text for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement was released. This is the text that the U.S. Congress and Parliaments from 11 other countries will consider. At the moment, it is far from a slam dunk that it will pass into international law.

ASH and the tobacco control community breathed a sigh of relief to see that the expected partial exemption for tobacco, limiting corporate rights to sue governments over anti-tobacco measures, is included. This is a first in the history of trade law, a huge victory for public health, and a terrific outcome from nearly five years of work here at ASH. We congratulate our partners, both individuals and organizations, who joined us in this fight from nearly every TPP country. Star Wars

Of course, this is not a perfect outcome. We sought more, and we will continue seeking more in future agreements. Please consider supporting ASH in this crucial fight by making a donation today. The Death Star has been destroyed, but Darth Vader (big tobacco) is still out there. With your help, we can ensure trade agreements support public health.

Below is a brief analysis of the TPP outcome as it relates to tobacco. There are still disconcerting aspects to the TPP for the future of tobacco control. But the tobacco industry views this outcome as a major defeat, and we will celebrate.


Right to elect for exemption: The exceptions chapter Article 29.5 gives Parties the right to deny the benefits of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism with respect to claims against tobacco control measures. The definition of “tobacco control measures” is robust, and includes alternative nicotine delivery devices (ANDs, often referred to as e-cigarettes). The language explicitly removes tobacco leaf from the exemption, i.e., trade in tobacco leaf is unaffected.

This falls well short of the full exemption for tobacco measures from the entire agreement proposed by Malaysia. However, it is a huge step forward for tobacco control from previous trade and investment agreements, and it is strong enough to invoke strong opposition from pro-tobacco industry politicians here in the U.S.

Aside from its application only to ISDS, the biggest weakness of the exemption is its status as an election for individual Parties. This leaves the door open to behind-the-scenes pressure by host governments, the tobacco industry and chambers of commerce to allow ISDS cases to proceed. Note that state-to-state disputes are not limited by this exemption.

Tariffs: Tobacco is treated like any other product in terms of tariff reduction. For the most part, this means that tobacco tariffs are reduced to zero, which produces a windfall of tobacco profits—unless there is a later compensating increase in domestic excise taxes. This explicit promotion of tobacco exports appears to violate the Doggett Amendment, a congressional limit on the authority of U.S. agencies to promote tobacco sales.

Other chapters: Tobacco is still treated like other products in the rest of the TPP, which signals that governments are still not recognizing that tobacco is unique in international trade (we want less, not more, and these same governments have agreed to this goal in the FCTC and other international instruments, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the NCD Summit).

The failure to approve the full exemption will have consequences for tobacco control. For example, the chapter on regulatory coherence requires Parties to set up mechanisms for “interested persons” to provide input into regulatory oversight. This creates a direct conflict of law with FCTC Article 5.3, which requires Parties (11 of whom are also TPP Parties) to limit government interaction with the tobacco industry.

ASH continues to lead a coalition supporting a full tobacco exemption in all trade agreements and BITs. This work will have huge benefits in the future if fully implemented.

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Huge progress made thanks to court case against Dutch State

Dutch government draws up rules for contacts with tobacco industry

via Youth Smoking Prevention Foundation

Amsterdam, 9 November 2015 – The court in The Hague ruled against the Youth Smoking Prevention Foundation today in the case against the Dutch State over illegal contacts of the government with the tobacco industry and its lobby. Nevertheless the court case has led to huge progress in the way the Dutch government relates to the tobacco industry. In a policy document called ‘Clarification implementation Article 5.3 WHO-Framework Convention’ that was sent to both chambers of Parliament days before the court case was heard by the court of The Hague, government clarifies how it wants to meet the requirements of Article 5.3. In this case the Youth Smoking Prevention Foundation is legally represented by mr. Phon van den Biesen, lawyer of Van den Biesen Kloostra advocaten in Amsterdam.

The court judged that legally the Youth Smoking Prevention Foundation is not in the position to request that the Dutch government complies with Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of the World Health Organisation (WHO). This article requires that “in setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law”. According to the court Article 5.3 has no direct effect.

Important results

“Of course it is disappointing that the court didn’t rule otherwise, but nonetheless this case has yielded a lot,” says pneumonologist Wanda de Kanter, co-founder and chair of the Youth Smoking Prevention Foundation. “Under the threat of this case the Dutch government compiled a policy document called ‘Clarification implementation Article 5.3 WHO-Framework Convention’ that was sent to both chambers of Parliament. In this document the government clarifies how it wants to meet the requirements of Article 5.3. Although the wording of the document is at some points a little vague, it is now written down how government at all levels – national, regional and local – must behave in relation to the tobacco industry. That document is here to stay, indifferent from today’s court ruling.”

“It means that from now on the doors of government are closed for the tobacco industry and its lobbyists. This will end the extensive influence of the tobacco industry that time and again tries to raise doubts by issuing defective research and reports and in reality is only in search of ‘replacement smokers’, as they call our children, because they are meant to replace the smokers who died of their addiction. The policy document secures that current and future governments finally can start to seriously control tobacco in this country without the tobacco lobby trying to counter that. We could never have achieved this without this case.”

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Argentine Supreme Court upholds tobacco marketing ban

November 3, 2015

The Supreme Court of Argentina protected the right to health over the tobacco industry’s interests

The high court rejected a lawsuit filed by Nobleza Piccardo (British American Tobacco in Argentina): the demand claimed the unconstitutionality of a law passed by Santa Fe that establishes complete bans on tobacco advertising and promotion in that province.
(Buenos Aires, October 29th, 2015). On October 27, the National Supreme Court rejected a plea of unconstitutionality presented by Nobleza Piccardo (British American Tobacco in Argentina) against the government of Santa Fe, arguing that the province has the constitutional power to implement measures to protect the right to health, enshrined both in the National and Provincial Constitutions. The lawsuit, filed in 2006, sought to challenge Article 7 and 8 of Santa Fe’s Provincial Tobacco Control Law, which establishes a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS).

The Supreme Court considered that Santa Fe’s regulation -a pioneer law in the country- meets the most comprehensive international standards in protecting the right to health and is indeed respectful of the National Constitution. Furthermore, the Court also considered that both National and Provincial governments are empowered to legislate on public health matters.

Complete and comprehensive bans on tobacco products advertising, promotion and sponsorship are among the most effective measures to reduce tobacco consumption. The main impact of these policies is directly related to the prevention of cigarette consumption among children and adolescents –the main target of advertising strategies deployed by the tobacco industry at points of sale.

“We welcome that the Supreme Court recognizes tobacco control policies as effective measures to protect the human right to health. The Court has also countered the argument that tobacco control policies violate tobacco companies’ freedom of commercial expression, recognizing that restrictions on tobacco advertising do not violate any constitutional rights. On the contrary, they seek to meet the constitutional obligation to guarantee the fundamental rights to health and life”, stands Verónica Schoj, Executive Director of the Fundación InterAmericana del Corazón Argentina (FIC Argentina). She also adds that “This is an historic decision and a major boost for the provinces to move towards complete bans on tobacco advertising and promotion, like in Santa Fe, since it rules out potential unconstitutionality lawsuits for the future. On the other hand, and in line with the fulfillment of constitutional human rights obligations, the need to amend the National Tobacco Control Law so it incorporates a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, including the exhibition of tobacco products, becomes evident”.

The President of the Supreme Court of Argentina, Dr. Ricardo Lorenzetti, said that the only reason to question the constitutionality of a local regulation is that it poses an obstacle to the objectives of the “national protection law”.

“It is important to point out that the provinces that have no legislation on tobacco advertising and the ones where the legislation in force is weaker than the national standards should give priority to the implementation of the National Tobacco Control Law. This situation remains ignored by the tobacco industry”, stands Dr. Belén Rios, FIC Argentina’s Legal Area Director.

For more information on complete tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship bans, click here.

Institutional Contact:
Tel: (011) 4775 8290
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ASH 2015 Tobacco Industry Monitoring Report Card

ASH’s Tobacco Industry Monitoring (TIM) program works to track and publicize tobacco industry behavior.  Our TIM program stems from Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which obligates national governments to prevent the tobacco industry from interfering in tobacco regulation.

The more light we can shine on big tobacco’s efforts to stop meaningful tobacco control, the less effective their efforts will be.

ASH is hard at work gathering data on where the industry makes its money, how it is spent, and the economic devastation left behind. Some highlights of our work in 2015 are:

– We published case studies that illustrate international lessons learned on smoke-free air laws in several countries (France, Uruguay, and Switzerland). These case studies are in support of our FCTC Implementation Guideswiss pic

– One of TIM’s biggest projects for the year was updating our campaign contributions map. Big Tobacco contributed almost $2 million to politicians in the 2014 elections, and our map shows how pervasive tobacco money is in politics. Check to see if your candidate took tobacco money in the last election, and look for the next iteration of our map, coming in 2016!

– ASH worked with our partners to expose the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a front group for Big Tobacco. Our work included a protest outside of the Chamber, where we showed up with Jeff the Diseased Lung!

ASH changes "Don't be a Maybe" into "Don't be a Target"

ASH changes “Don’t be a Maybe” into “Don’t be a Target”

– In response to PMI’s Marlboro campaign entitled “Don’t Be a Maybe”, we created similar “Don’t Be A Target” graphics and encouraged people to watch our video called “Don’t Be a Target”. We also participated in a flash mob outside of the Philip Morris shareholders meeting in order to draw attention to PMI’s marketing strategies.

– We also followed and shared news about tobacco control, the tobacco industry, and how they interfere in tobacco regulation, both in the United States and around the world. Read some of these articles here, here and here.

Check back next month to see the exciting things we have planned for the TIM Project in 2016!

And, please consider supporting our crucial workDonate Now

at ASH by making a donation today.

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Smoked meat is NOT as dangerous as smoked tobacco

Most regular readers of the ASH blog will have heard the news from the World Health Organization (WHO) that smoked and preserved meats are now known carcinogens. Far too many news outlets, eager to sensationalize, have announced this news with headlines such as: Bacon, ham and sausages ‘as big a cancer threat as smoking’.[1]

To be clear: no it isn’t. And the WHO never said it was. Bacon

The confusion stems from the way WHO categorizes cancer risks. Products or behaviors that have a clear link to cancer are all placed into the same category, a category that includes asbestos and tobacco. There are five categories in all, but saying that because tobacco and meat are in the same “quintile” means that they are equally dangerous is like saying that anybody in the top fifth of wage earners (roughly an income of over $200,000 a year) is as rich as Bill Gates.

So to set the record straight…

One serving of bacon a day raises your risk of certain cancers by 18%

Three cigarettes a day raise your risk of lung cancer by 500%

So please, if you decide that your love of bacon makes the slight increase in cancer risk worth it, don’t come to the same conclusion about tobacco. Tobacco kills about half of its long term users.

Eating sausage is like driving slightly over the speed limit. Smoking cigarettes is like playing Russian roulette with half the chambers loaded.


[1] The Telegraph, Oct. 23, 2015,

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