facebook twitter rss

“We Have an Opportunity to Change History”

Health must become a priority. The time is now,” said global tobacco control advocates in the Framework Convention Alliance video. They emphasize the importance of this year, 2015, and that leaders must raise their ambitions for humanity. They also encourage the general public to stand up and speak out.

The global tobacco control community created this video for the Action/2015 campaign that launched on January 15th, 2015 and runs through September.

The Action/2015 campaign promotes ambitious global goals to target poverty, inequality, environmental destruction, and human development.

In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly will finalize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will replace the Millennium Development Goals, expiring this year. These new goals will set national development agendas for the next 15 years and beyond.

The tobacco control community aims to ensure the inclusion of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in the SDGs as one of the best methods to improve global health.

Health is a major part of sustainable development and must be highlighted in the post-2015 development agenda. Tobacco is the world’s leading cause of preventable death, killing over 6 million people a year. In the 20th century alone, tobacco use killed 100 million people. If we don’t take action, tobacco will kill 1 billion people this century. The majority of those projected deaths will occur in low and middle-income countries, now a main target of the tobacco industry, which has shifted its efforts as smoking rates have fallen in the developed world.

Governments can prevent these hundreds of millions of premature tobacco-related deaths by implementing the FCTC. The FCTC has 180 Parties, representing nearly 90% of the world’s population. This unique public health treaty includes low-cost policy measures that are proven to decrease tobacco use. Implementing the FCTC is globally recognized as the best of the “best buys” for tackling the fast-rising epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which cause nearly 2/3 of global deaths.

Specifically, the FCTC’s measures include raising tobacco taxes, a win-win solution for health, development, and governments. Higher taxes lead to reduced tobacco consumption, in turn cutting the damage, disease, and death caused by tobacco use. Increased tobacco taxes would also generate revenue for cash-strapped governments.

If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Shana Narula, Campaign Coordinator, narulas@ash.org.

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

For more information:




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

In Our View: Raise Smoking Age to 21

One of the strongest arguments in favor of raising the legal age for tobacco purchases inadvertently comes from the tobacco industry itself. In 1986, in a confidential memo, an executive for Philip Morris wrote, “Raising the legal minimum age for cigarette purchase to 21 could gut our key young-adult market (17-20).”

It’s no secret that tobacco companies target young smokers, with the understanding that young smokers are likely to become lifelong smokers. Because of that, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is backing legislative efforts to raise the age for the purchase and use of tobacco in the state from 18 to 21. Such a change would mirror the minimum age for alcohol and marijuana and would make Washington the first state to implement a minimum age of 21 for tobacco use.

Certain municipalities across the country already have raised their smoking age to 21. In 2005, Needham, Mass., was the first to do so, and by 2012 the city’s high-school-age smoking rate had dropped by 50 percent. Results like that are inarguably positive and would be a boon to Washington. “For me, it’s really about helping these kids not have a lifetime of addiction, because that’s what they face,” said state Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, the lead House sponsor of a bill to raise the minimum age.

Read more>

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

President Obama on Tobacco & Trade

Remarks by the President at Meeting of the Export Council

December 11, 2014

The big bugaboo that’s lifted up there is tobacco companies suing poorer countries to make sure that anti-smoking legislation is banned, or at least tying them up with so much litigation that ultimately smaller countries cave.

Those are issues that I think can be negotiated — there are some areas of particular sensitivity or concern.  But overall, the principle that we should make sure that U.S. companies, when they invest or export to other countries, are abiding with their safety rules but that those public health and safety rules are not being discriminatorily applied or a ruse in order to keep us out.  That should be something everybody is in favor of.

Read Full Statement>

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

Dirty Money

Why charities should not let Big Tobacco use them for marketing.

Earlier this month, a journalist caused a stir among health charities by publicizing the fact that the American Red Cross accepts donations from the tobacco industry and allows the Red Cross symbol to be used on industry websites and vice-versa.

Altria on ARC’s Website

The immediate conversation is the tarnishing of the well-earned positive reputation of the Red Cross, which no doubt uses the money for good. The broader conversation is whether it is ever acceptable for a charity to accept voluntary donations from the tobacco industry.

For us here at ASH, and for many of our partners around the globe, the answer is a resounding “NO”. But people of good conscience can legitimately ask why. Why not use this ill-begotten money to do some good?

Here is the short answer: because it kills people. That is a bit glib, but let me explain.

The tobacco industry does not give to charity out of the goodness of its heart. If they had any heart at all, they would immediately cease their activities, since their products kill half of their long-term customers. For tobacco companies like Altria, donations are a part of marketing.

Altria and other cigarette makers know they have a lousy reputation. Boasting about their charitable giving introduces another side to the story, making it seem less black and white.

It gives cover to tobacco-friendly politicians, increasing the chances that tobacco industries get a seat at the table when health policy is discussed. And, in a world that is increasingly banning traditional forms of tobacco advertising, it is another way to get their name and brand out there, often in association with “good” organizations.

PMI donations

The “vector” of the global tobacco epidemic is the tobacco industry, and the way the disease is spread is through marketing. When a charity accepts tobacco money, it assists with tobacco marketing, and therefore helps spread the disease.

The incompatibility of tobacco money and the public interest has been widely recognized.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies stopped accepting tobacco donations years ago, and most national branches have followed suit. The World Health Organization and the United Nations agree. And this is a key aspect of the legally-binding WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The only time that money acquired through selling tobacco can be used for good is when that money has been taken from tobacco companies against their will, whether through taxes, fines, or legal settlements.


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

TAU cancels Philip Morris event following pressure from cancer organization

Tel Aviv University has backed out of its agreement with the Philip Morris Tobacco Company (Altria Group) that the firm provide scholarships to TAU’s School of Marketing students. The decision was made last week after the Israel Cancer Association (ICA) threatened to cancel its research grants to TAU scientists.

The university publicized an invitation to a “festive event” due to be held on January, 6 sponsored by Philip Morris – the largest tobacco company in the world – to recruit marketing students who will soon complete their bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but lack experience in the business world.

The tobacco company invited the marketing students to take advantage of the “unique opportunity” to hear about its activities and to “meet senior managers and the variety of jobs in the company.”

The ICA called for the immediate cancellation of the event and to avoid giving patronage to the tobacco industry, “which causes sickness and death among the users of its products.” The ICA also called on the university’s president and deans of the schools of medicine, life sciences, and management to ensure the event was canceled.

If not, said the ICA, it would freeze all new research grants for which TAU faculty and students would apply.

In 2014, the ICA awarded more than NIS 600,000 to TAU researchers, it said.

Read More>

Learn More about ways the tobacco industry circumventd marketing restrictions through corporate social responsibility schemes worldwide>

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

Why I Fight: Garret Mathews

I watched Mom die from smoking-induced lung cancer. I wrote the piece because I want folks to know that even smoking only a few cigarettes a day can be fatal.

You smoke.

Betsy Mathews

Betsy Mathews

Oh, not a lot. Seven, maybe 8 a day.

Mom was like that.

If necessary, you can go two or three hours between puffs. A movie. A dinner party. A Little League game.

Mom was like that.

You don’t smoke in the house, a nod to your spouse who quit cigarettes under surgeon’s orders after his heart attack.

Mom was like that.

You mostly light up outside. In the garden. On the porch. In the rocking chair beside the bird feeder.

Mom was like that.

You’re much too polite to smoke in the car, or around family members who don’t have the addiction. You tell people that, yes, even one cigarette is bad, but at least you’re not like those huddled wretches who fill their lungs inside smoking booths at airports and rail stations.

Mom was like that.

Betsy Mathews started smoking in 1944, her freshman year in college. She kept it up for 70 years until X-rays revealed two large, fast-growing tumors in her lungs.

She quit in the fall, but the doctor doubts it was discipline. More likely, he said, she inhaled one day and it felt like the devil breathing fire.

Death came two days after Christmas, six weeks after the diagnosis.

Mom was an active, vibrant person who ate the right foods and kept her weight down. Smoking-induced cancer stole her too soon from the grandchildren and the little great-grandbaby she loved so much.

Betsy Mathews didn’t smoke like a fiend.

Not a lot at all. Seven, maybe 8 a day.

But they added up and now she’s dead.

When Mom still had enough strength to talk, I told her I’d like to write about cigarettes and lung cancer.

Is there anything you’d like to share? I wanted to know.

She whispered, “Tell them not to be like me.”

Garret Mathews is retired from writing the metro column for the Evansville, Ind., Courier & Press. In a 39-year career, he penned more than 6,500 columns on every subject from mail-order brides to Appalachian snakehandlers. You can read some of his work by going to www.pluggerpublishing.com and clicking on the Favorites icon. His email address is garretmath@gmail.com

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

Lessons Learned: Smoke-free Air

Only about half of Americans are protected from exposure to secondhand smoke, whether in public places or at work.

Yet, a growing number of foreign countries have achieved complete protection, often in the face of strong tobacco industry opposition.

While every society is different, some of the strategies used offer lessons for advocates and educators here in the U.S.

Click below to read about the experiences of fellow public health professionals in other parts of the world.

Uruguay Case StudyFrance Case Study



Swiss Case study

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

Exclusive: American Red Cross Pressured To Rid Itself of Tobacco Money

New York (Reuters) – The American Red Cross risks damaging the reputation of the global Red Cross brand because of its refusal to stop accepting donations from tobacco companies, a top official with the humanitarian network said.

These concerns are prompting the International Red Cross and public health organizations to press the U.S. group to end its longtime policy of taking tobacco money, Reuters has learned.

Read More>

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

Legal Victories in U.S. Tobacco Control 2014

min age 21Several cities raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21

Increasing the minimum age is very important because 95% of smokers start by their early twenties. The cities that have taken this life saving step include Healdsburg, CA; Englewood, NJ; Melrose, MA; and Evanston, IL. See more about how tobacco companies target young people in our video>

A Florida widow won a $23.6 billion lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds FL widow

Her attorneys argued that Big Tobacco was aware that cigarettes were addictive and caused lung cancer and that by not telling smokers about those risks, the company was negligent. Read more here>

inceased taxesOregon and Vermont increased their cigarette taxes

Increasing the price of tobacco products is the single most effective way to prevent initiation among nonsmokers and to reduce consumption. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has concluded that a 50% increase in price lowers consumption by 20%. Read more about tobacco taxes on our blog>

New York City prohibits coupons for tobacco products. no coupons

The tobacco industry challenged the law because they have often used coupons as a way to offset the cost of rising tobacco taxes. Recently, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York upheld that law. Read more about this in our Implementation Guide>


tobacco free campusMore colleges and universities go smoke and tobacco-free

As of October 1, 2014, there are now at least 1,477 campuses that are 100% smoke-free. Of these, 975 are 100% tobacco-free, and 291 prohibit the use of e-cigarettes anywhere on campus. Read more about tobacco free colleges and universities here>

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

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>.


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>


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”


Contact: Megan Arendt

Office: 202-659-4310

Email: arendtm@ash.org


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 (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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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
  • Recent Tweets