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ASH Certifies 193 Members of Congress “Free from Tobacco Money”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Megan Arendt
Office: 202-659-4310
Email: arendtm@ash.org 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 29, 2014 – Action on Smoking & Health (ASH), an organization devoted to creating a world free of tobacco-related damage, disease, and death both domestically and globally, announced today that 193 Senators and Representatives are being certified “Free from Tobacco Money.” This certification is awarded today in recognition of “World No Tobacco Day 2014. For the full list of those being recognized, please visit http://ash.org/wntd2014/.

On World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organization and its partners, including ASH, highlight the harms associated with tobacco and advocate for effective tobacco control policies. Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined, and tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death worldwide. Left unchecked, tobacco use will kill 1 billion people in the 21st century.

“We all know money talks, and in the case of tobacco industry contributions, the talk inevitably translates into more death and disease due to tobacco use,” said Dr. Alfred Munzer, chair of the ASH board and a long time anti-tobacco activist. “By refusing to take tobacco contributions, these political leaders demonstrate that the health of their constituents is far more important than the wealth of the tobacco barons.”

“Given that there is an irreconcilable conflict between public health and the interests of the tobacco industry, the FCTC guidelines recommend that governments shut out the tobacco industry from policy discussions,” said Laurent Huber, Director of the Framework Convention Alliance, a confederation of over 500 health groups from around the world. “By not accepting campaign contributions, these representatives are helping to achieve that aim.”

This certification recognizes that these representatives have not accepted campaign contributions from tobacco corporations for at least the past ten years. Annually, the tobacco industry contributes over $1.6 million to federal candidates and spends approximately $16.6 million lobbying Congress. ASH encourages politicians to voluntarily comply with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the world’s first treaty on tobacco control. The United States has signed but not ratified the FCTC treaty; however, ASH encourages voluntary compliance with its guidelines, especially at the state and local level.

ASH awards this certification in gratitude and acknowledgement of the commitment of these representatives to stand with health.

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Put public health on agenda of trade deal talks & ‘uncuff’ governments

Trade agreements are being used to “handcuff governments” over health policy, Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organisation said at its assembly. This was “disturbing” she went on, adding that trade agreements have many consequences for health.

A nation’s health can be benefited by such deals, whether by increasing exports to foreign markets, bringing in foreign investment, or reducing the price of imported goods. But for all this potential good, they can also do just as much harm if their impact on health isn’t considered when they are being designed and negotiated. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), currently under negotiation, is one such agreement that has caused big debate over proposals that included patenting medical procedures.

Read Full Article Here>

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World No Tobacco Day: Tobacco Taxation

Raising taxes on tobacco products can affect the price, and therefore consumption, of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health further explains the issue via video, infographic, research, and more. Click here>

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The 3 deadliest drugs in America are all totally legal

As the US debates drug policy and marijuana legalization, there’s one aspect of the war on drugs that remains perplexingly contradictory: some of the most dangerous drugs in the US are perfectly legal.

Don’t believe it? Just look at this chart, compiled with available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

This chart does come with a big qualification: it’s not a perfect comparison across the board. One driver of absolute tobacco and alcohol deaths is that both substances are legal and easily available. Other substances would most likely be far deadlier if they were as available as tobacco and alcohol.

Read more from Vox here>

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“It always seems impossible until it is done,” Nelson Mandela.

In a recent message, an ASH ally used this famous quote to encapsulate the long and arduous journey they’d embarked on to advocate for their government’s complete ban of corporate social responsibility (CSR) by the tobacco industry.

But let’s take a step back. What is CSR, and why is tobacco industry CSR so unique?

Corporate social responsibility is an opportunity for the private sector to positively affect the communities they operate in.  Today, social responsibility for individuals, organizations, corporations, and more has become a driving force and tool to manage reputation.

The tobacco industry is similar yet different. They fund certain charitable causes, self-promote their donations, and cleverly refer to this marketing as CSR.  But there is no amount of charitable goodwill the tobacco industry can produce to mitigate the fact that their products kill up to half of their users (6 million across the globe annually), are an economic threat to families and governments, and if current trends persist, will kill 1 billion people (smokers and nonsmokers alike) in the 21st century.

One country has taken a stand against the extreme hypocrisy of tobacco industry CSR.  In 2008, the small African nation of Mauritius became the first country in the world to successfully ban tobacco industry CSR schemes by law (Mauritian Public Health Act of 2008).

Mauritius utilized the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) definition of “any form of contribution to any event, activity, or individual with the aim, effect, or likely effect of promoting a tobacco product or tobacco use directly or indirectly.” This demonstrates Mauritius’ high-level of commitment to tobacco control and public health policy, which they achieved despite the fact that the African continent and many other low- to middle- income countries are prime targets of the ever-expanding tobacco industry.

There are still over 60 countries with operating tobacco industry CSR programs specifically aimed at circumventing tobacco marketing restrictions as highlighted in the ASH Tobacco Marketing Map.

One thing is clear.

The tobacco industry cannot be allowed to continue to provide donations to the communities it is simultaneously hurting with its products. ASH tracks these marketing schemes and is working toward CSR advocacy initiatives that will help policy makers globally.

If you’ve been a witness to tobacco industry misconduct, share your story with us by submitting a message to CSR@ash.org.

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Tobacco’s Hidden Children

Hazardous Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming

The Human Rights Watch’s 138-page report documents conditions for children working on tobacco farms in four states where 90 % of US tobacco is grown: North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Children reported vomiting, nausea, headaches, and dizziness while working on tobacco farms, all symptoms consistent with acute nicotine poisoning. Many also said they worked long hours without overtime pay, often in extreme heat without shade or sufficient breaks, and wore no, or inadequate, protective gear.

Read the full report here>

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Live at the UN: Event Promotes Tobacco Control in Post-2015 Development Agenda

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—which range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS—form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and leading development institutions.  They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. 

The UN is now working with governments, civil society, and other partners to build on this momentum to create a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will replace the current MDGs after 2015 until 2030.

As ASH’s Campaign Coordinator, I have been working in New York for the past year to ensure that tobacco control will be included in the new SDGs. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), for which tobacco is a leading risk factor, have gained a significant amount of attention from member states, as shown by their Open Working Group (OWG) statements. With support from ASH, the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA), co-hosted an event last week along with the permanent missions of Jamaica, Belgium, and the Pacific Small Island Developing States. The purpose was to educate member states, UN representatives, and civil society about the importance of including tobacco control in the post-2015 global development agenda. The event was very well attended by influential decision makers for the comprehensive review and assessment of the progress achieved in the prevention and control of NCDs (NCD Review and Assessment) to be held in July 2014, including the co-facilitators from Jamaica and Belgium, and member states that will be drafting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

ASH has been and continues to be the sole advocate at the UN to ensure that tobacco control is not neglected. If our goal is achieved and tobacco is included in the SDGs, tobacco control will become a national priority worldwide, national tobacco control program funding will increase, and smoking prevalence will decline. This will prevent millions of premature deaths and save billions of dollars in healthcare costs. Clearly, it is in the best interest of governments to advocate for the inclusion of tobacco control in the SDGs. It is a win-win for the world.

ASH will keep working hard as the only group fighting to ensure that tobacco is not left out of the SDGs, but we can’t do it without you.

 
To watch the event click here. Share the webcast on social media!

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Panel Appointed For WTO Mega-Case On Australia Tobacco Packaging

World Trade Organization Director General Roberto Azevêdo yesterday appointed three panellists to examine the dispute against an Australian public health measure requiring tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging in the country. A decision in the case will be forthcoming in six months.

Five countries have brought varying but similar cases against Australia for the measure. The director general appointed the panellists because there was no agreement by the six parties in the dispute (five complainants and one respondent) on the composition of the panel, the WTO said. This case has the largest number of members in WTO history, a WTO source said.

The panellists will be:

  • Chairperson: Mr. Alexander Erwin (South Africa)
  • Members: Mr. François Dessemontet (Switzerland) and Ms. Billie Miller (Barbados)

The panel report will have to be issued in maximum six months after the date of the composition.

The six parties involved in this dispute (Australia, Ukraine, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Indonesia) agreed in April to accept the same panellists for all of the disputes (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 26 April 2014). They also agreed to harmonise the timetable for the panel proceedings, cooperate in all matters related to the agreement, and not to raise any procedural objections to any of the steps set out in it, according to sources.

The case initiated by Ukraine (WT/DS434) asserts a violation of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) trademark protection. The cases initiated by Honduras (WT/DS435), the Dominican Republic (WT/DS441), Cuba (WT/DS458) and Indonesia (WT/DS467), include an issue related to geographical indications, products named for particular places and characteristics.

Read more>

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Facing the Wrong Way

The Chamber of Commerce is undercutting its trade agenda by supporting Big Tobacco.

Since early in 2011, much of our attention here at ASH has been focused on the nexus between trade and tobacco, in particular on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). If you have followed this issue, you’ve seen the involvement of public health groups, state officials, the Obama Administration, attorneys general, and Members of Congress.

Conspicuously missing from this list is the tobacco industry itself, which has kept an extremely low profile. In fact, a search for the word “transpacific” on the website of Philip Morris USA renders zero hits. Given that suing governments under trade agreements is one of the industry’s favorite tactics, and this public discussion is all about taking away that tactic, how can they stay quiet? There are two reasons.

First and most obvious, like every major industry, tobacco companies enjoy privileged, behind-closed-doors access to the office of the United States Trade Representative. Their representatives on trade advisory panels have access to negotiating texts (more so even than Members of Congress) and a direct line to the negotiators. So they don’t really need to argue in public.

The second reason is more puzzling. The tobacco industry doesn’t have to put up a fight because the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does it for them. This puts the weight of nearly every other major corporation behind Big Tobacco – we don’t know exactly how many, because the Chamber will not reveal its membership. Their reasoning is the age-old “slippery slope” argument: if you exempt tobacco, next will be alcohol, then fast food, then pharmaceuticals.

The Chamber’s stance on tobacco and trade is wrong for two reasons. First, tobacco is unique in that it is the only consumer product that kills when used exactly as intended. It is simply immoral to advocate for its increased use.

But it is also poor tactics. The Chamber really wants a successful conclusion to the TPP, but there are so many perceived affronts to health, the environment, and consumer and human rights that it is in danger of foundering. Tobacco is a rallying point for groups who care about these issues. If the Chamber wants the TPP to float, it is time to jettison the tobacco industry.

Take action by tweeting “Exempt tobacco from trade agreements as the unique & deadly product it is, @USChamber. #StandWithHealth”

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Hatch Faults USTR For Failing To Be ‘Bulwark’ Against Federal Regulators

via ACSCAN

Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) today (May 1) faulted the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for rolling over to demands by federal regulators to restrict the scope of trade rules so that they do not interfere with consumer protections, and argued that this kind of behavior could hobble the president’s trade agenda.

“Too often during the inter-agency process, regulatory agencies are just saying no to cooperative participation in international trade negotiations,” Hatch charged in his opening statement at a hearing on President Obama’s trade agenda that featured USTR Michael Froman.

The ranking member said he had observed a “failure” by USTR “to effectively play its traditional role as a bulwark against other federal agencies.” He specifically cited what he said was the Department of Health and Human Services’ insistence that it needed flexibility to regulate tobacco products, which led a USTR proposal that he characterized as carving out the regulation of tobacco products from any rules under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Hatch also pointed to the Department of Treasury’s insistence on “relegating financial services discussion to pre-existing forums” which he said resulted in USTR’s position that financial services should be carved out of the trade negotiations with the European Union.

Finally, charged that the Food and Drug Administration’s fear that a full enforceable sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) chapter in TPP would open its regulations to dispute settlement led to a USTR proposal that excludes SPS disciplines from dispute settlement.

“There is a clear pattern here. If this does not change, I am worried that any agreement this administration negotiates will never match the president’s rhetoric of concluding high-standard 21st century agreements,” Hatch said. “Of course, the history of this administration’s trade agenda has yet to be written and there is still time to correct course.”

Hatch, in his statement, argued that interference by federal regulators has also contributed to low staff morale at USTR. He said that USTR ranks “dead last” in employee job satisfaction among small agencies, in an apparent reference to the Office of Personnel Management’s annual report on the subject, which in 2013 found that only 29 percent of USTR staff felt positive about their overall work satisfaction.

That represented a 7 percentage point drop from the previous year. The 2013 survey – which 63 percent of USTR employees responded to – found that the percent of staffers who had trust and confidence in their supervisors increased 20 percentage points from the previous year – from 51 to 71 percent. But it also found that only 28 percent of USTR employees would recommend their agency as a good place to work, an 8 percentage point drop from the previous year.

Hatch also said he was “profoundly” disappointed by the administration’s failure to bring a WTO case against India over what he charged is its failure to protect U.S. intellectual property.

“Countries around the world are taking note of the president’s failure to act in this area, and this is feeding the perception that they can refuse to protect, and even actively violate, U.S. intellectual property rights with impunity,” Hatch said. He also criticized Canada’s patent policies as violating the North American Free Trade Agreement and the WTO and asked Froman what he is doing to ensure compliance.

Froman answered that he is alarmed about the deterioration of the “innovation environment” in India, and has raised the issue at the highest levels. He noted that India is in the midst of an election and that he is looking forward to “engaging with the new government of India as soon as it’s in place.”

On Canada, Froman said the issue of patent protection is now under litigation in Canada but that the U.S. is continuing to engage with Canada on the issue.

At issue in the patent dispute with Canada is the domestic courts’ interpretation of patent utility. The courts ruled that if a company makes a particular promise in its patent application, it must show evidence that the drug can live up to that promise in order to prove utility.

Companies are not allowed to supplement their application with information later. A Canadian court, in a patent case involving Eli Lilly, ruled that the company had no evidence upon which a reasonable person would think that the drug could have a long-term use, which the court found that Lilly had promised.

Hatch’s comments on tobacco drew a quick rebuke from public health advocates, who fought back by citing a new poll they say illustrates wide public support for addressing public health and tobacco issues in the TPP and other U.S. trade agreements.

“It’s important to the administration, the USTR, and Congress to know that the public is behind us on this issue,” Gregg Haifley, director of federal relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said in an interview.

Haifley cited a public opinion poll commissioned by his group and conducted by Democratic and Republican pollsters that found 79 percent of likely voters ranked “protecting public health and safety” among their top three priorities for a U.S. trade agreement.

That was higher than 77 percent who ranked “protecting jobs being lost from trade” as among their top three priorities, and 70 percent who ranked “protecting the environment” as among their top three, according toan executive summary of the poll dated March 18. That said, more voters said their number one priority in trade agreements was protecting jobs, with 37 percent of likely voters doing so, compared to 34 percent who rated protecting public health as their first priority.

The poll also found that a majority of likely voters support including a provision to protect countries’ rights to regulate tobacco as part of the TPP. “By a significant 56-37 percent margin, voters favor including language that limits the tobacco industry’s ability to challenge laws regulating tobacco in countries,” the executive summary said.

Also found via InsideTrade.com>

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President Obama’s smoking problem in Malaysia

Malaysia’s government is battling against a smoking epidemic that threatens its young people — and it fears Barack Obama’s big Pacific trade deal will make the health crisis even worse.

Read the full Politico article here>

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FDA Extends Its Authority Over Tobacco Products & E-Cigarettes, Leaving Loopholes

Statement of ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber

Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new rules that will extend its regulatory authority to include electronic cigarettes as well as cigars, pipe tobacco, nicotine gels, water pipe tobacco and hookahs.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) applauds the FDA’s action in taking this critical step. The FDA’s proposal extends regulations to prohibit free samples, vending machine sales, and outdoor advertising to all tobacco products. The proposal also prohibits sales of electronic cigarettes to those under 18 and would require producers to disclose ingredients, manufacturing processes, and data to the FDA. This step will provide the FDA and the tobacco control community with important information that will help determine the health effects of electronic cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes have grown immensely in popularity in recent years and have not been subject to federal regulation. While the FDA proposal is an important step, ASH is disappointed that the proposal does not include the regulation of the marketing of e-cigarettes nor the banning of flavors, such as bubble gum, that specifically target young people. Even if electronic cigarettes prove to be an effective tool for adults who are trying to quit, they should not be marketed to children. ASH urges the FDA to put these important regulatory issues back on the table.

Greater federal regulation of non-cigarette tobacco products is also long overdue. As society has worked to reign in the devastating health impact of cigarette smoking, the tobacco industry has used legal loopholes to addict new generations of nicotine addicts through small cigars, nicotine-containing candy, and other tobacco products. These loopholes must be closed, and ASH urges the FDA to leave no exemptions, such as the proposed exemption for premium cigars.

The FDA has given 75 days for public comment on these proposed rules. We can be sure that the tobacco industry and their allies will be working hard to blunt FDA’s attempt to fight the tobacco epidemic. ASH urges public health groups and anyone concerned about tobacco and nicotine addiction to make their voices heard.

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FDA Deeming

Statement of ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber

Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new rules that will extend its regulatory authority to include electronic cigarettes as well as cigars, pipe tobacco, nicotine gels, water pipe tobacco and hookahs.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) applauds the FDA’s action in taking this critical step. The FDA’s proposal extends regulations to prohibit free samples, vending machine sales, and outdoor advertising to all tobacco products. The proposal also prohibits sales of electronic cigarettes to those under 18 and would require producers to disclose ingredients, manufacturing processes, and data to the FDA. This step will provide the FDA and the tobacco control community with important information that will help determine the health effects of electronic cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes have grown immensely in popularity in recent years and have not been subject to federal regulation. While the FDA proposal is an important step, ASH is disappointed that the proposal does not include the regulation of the marketing of e-cigarettes nor the banning of flavors, such as bubble gum, that specifically target young people. Even if electronic cigarettes prove to be an effective tool for adults who are trying to quit, they should not be marketed to children. ASH urges the FDA to put these important regulatory issues back on the table.
Greater federal regulation of non-cigarette tobacco products is also long overdue. As society has worked to reign in the devastating health impact of cigarette smoking, the tobacco industry has used legal loopholes to addict new generations of nicotine addicts through small cigars, nicotine-containing candy, and other tobacco products. These loopholes must be closed, and ASH urges the FDA to leave no exemptions, such as the proposed exemption for premium cigars.
The FDA has given 75 days for public comment on these proposed rules. We can be sure that the tobacco industry and their allies will be working hard to blunt FDA’s attempt to fight the tobacco epidemic. ASH urges public health groups and anyone concerned about tobacco and nicotine addiction to make their voices heard.
Please contact media@ash.org for additional comments.
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FDA Will Propose New Regulations for E-Cigarettes

he Food and Drug Administration will propose sweeping new rules on Thursday that for the first time would extend its regulatory authority from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes, popular nicotine delivery devices that have grown into a multibillion-dollar business with virtually no federal oversight or protections for American consumers.

Click here to read the full article>

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Scared of legal pot? Hold on. Let’s talk about tobacco.

What’s ailing us? Many serious illnesses we face are embarrassingly simple to avoid. Ezra Klein talks with Center for Disease Control director Tom Frieden.

Ezra Klein: What is the single biggest opportunity out there in health?

Tom Frieden: I would start with tobacco control. You know what, people sometimes think, “Oh, tobacco. That’s yesterday’s issue.” It still kills more people than anything else in this country and around the world. And there’s a lot more that we can do about it. It doesn’t just kill people, it disables, disfigures, causes diseases. It increases our health care cost. Tobacco is really the number one enemy of health in this country and around the world.

Read full interview here>

 

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Higher taxes on cigarettes make good sense

By Washington Post 

 

MARYLAND HAS one of the highest state-imposed cigarette tax rates in the nation ($2 per pack) and, unsurprisingly, one of the lowest smoking rates. Virginia has one of the lowest cigarette tax rates in the nation (30 cents per pack); its smoking rate is almost 20 percent higher than Maryland’s.

America is well past the debate about the health effects of smoking, but tobacco taxes in many states remain low, thanks largely to the influence of tobacco companies. Yet it is clear that higher cigarette taxes have a direct effect on smoking rates, and they are particularly effective in dissuading young people from taking up the habit.

Read Full Article Here>

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Earth Day: Kicking Butts Out of US

Cigarette butts are the most littered item worldwide. Smokers litter cigarette butts rather than disposing of them properly 65% of the time, which results in approximately 845,000 tons (1.69 BILLION pounds) of cigarette butts as toxic trash each year.

Data shows that “in 2010, over one million (1,181,589) cigarettes or cigarette filters—enough to fill 94,626 packs—were removed from American beaches and inland waterways.” Read more here> Cigarette related litter is an enormous problem, both in the United States and worldwide.

Littered cigarette butts are not just unsightly, they’re unhealthy. A single cigarette butt in a liter of water containing minnows is toxic enough to kill half of the fish within 96 hours. See study here>  Hazardous chemicals including arsenic and lead leach into water and soil and are often ingested by wildlife and pets, not to mention small children, who suffer serious health problems as a result.

There are several new laws designed to help solve this problem. One approach is to create more smoke free environments, including smoke free beaches and parks, that, among other benefits, help prevent litter in these locations. These laws have a big impact: smoke-free beach laws help reduce butts on beaches by 45%, according to the National Audubon Society.

Another approach is to create or increase penalties and enforcement for anyone who litters a cigarette butt. A recent update to Illinois’ Litter Control Act will subject anyone who tosses a cigarette on the ground to increased penalties. The first offense is a class B misdemeanor and a fine up to $1,500. The second offense is a class A misdemeanor, and the third offense is a felony that can carry a one to three year jail sentence and up to a $25,000 fine. See the act here>

Some states are considering a different tactic. New York has pending legislation that would prevent anyone from selling cigarettes in the states unless the cigarette and filter are biodegradable. See the legislation here: New York>).

California has proposed legislation that would prohibit the sale of single use filter cigarettes. See the legislation here-California>.

If you live in New York or California, please contact your representatives and encourage them to vote for these measures.

New York- contact your state assembly member to encourage them to vote YES on Assembly Bill A206-2013- here>

California- contact your state assembly member to encourage them to vote YES on Assembly Bill 1504- here>

Everyone Else- contact your state delegate to encourage them to take action against toxic cigarette waste.

*The Maryland legislature was considering a bill on this issue in their 2014 Spring Session. Please contact your MD representative, and encourage them to support biodegradable cigarette legislation when the legislature is back in session.

Please leave a comment below, or continue the conversation with ASH on Facebook or Twitter.

Thank you for taking action, and Happy Earth Day!

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Tobacco on TV Tied to Adult Smoking Rates

(Reuters Health) – Even though smoking appears far less frequently in U.S. television shows than it used to, its portrayal may still be triggering the urge in adult smokers, according to a new study.

Researchers reviewed patterns in TV smoking over more than 50 years and found that they tracked with changes in adult tobacco use, suggesting that even established smokers are influenced to light up by seeing it done on the small screen.

Read full article here>

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Big Tobacco Abroad

The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the downside to free trade.

…According to the World Health Institute, “nearly 80 percent of the world’s one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.” Multinational corporations are seeking their own Treaty of Nanjing: they are using free trade agreements to usurp national sovereignty and stymy economic development. Tobacco kills six million people each year, and if current trends continue, it will kill one billion people in the twenty-first century.

Enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This free trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and ten Asian-Pacific countries is currently in negotiation, but has been dragged out far past its deadline (and slowed by the President’s lack of “fast track” authority). The TPP covers 40 percent of U.S. exports and imports and may well be the most under-reported story this year.

Click here to read the full article>

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Action Review: 1st Quarter Edition 2014

ASH Marks the 50th Anniversary of the Surgeon General’s Report

January 11, 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health.  The original report revealed to the world the scientific fact that smoking causes disease and death, and was so groundbreaking that its release was held on a Saturday to minimize the impact on the stock market. A new public health initiative was born, both in the U.S. and abroad, culminating in the world’s first health treaty, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Although the 1964 report examined the impact of tobacco on Americans, the rest of the world was also listening. The U.S. public health service was and is highly respected globally, and much of the scientific data analyzed by the expert committee came from foreign scientists, particularly in the United Kingdom. The new Surgeon General’s report, released this past January, also included data from around the world.

Those familiar with the tobacco control movement are no strangers to the fact that tobacco remains the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S. and the world, causing one in five deaths here at home and killing over 6 million people per year worldwide. The epidemic has shifted dramatically in the 50 years since the 1964 report. At the time, it was a disease of the wealthy. Today, it is a particular burden for the global poor.

The good news is there is a solution:  The WHO FCTC is the blueprint for effective tobacco control guidelines that will save lives!

This year ASH will release its report A Half Century of Avoidable Death: A Global Perspective on Tobacco in America.  This report examines current laws in the U.S. and highlights domestic successes, failures and comparisons to the best practices around the globe. The tobacco control community has recognized that we must combat the epidemic by examining the problem through a global lens and that one of the greatest tools at our disposal is the WHO FCTC.  Please stay tuned for our report release this spring.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Program Updates

TRADE

For the last three years, ASH has been leading the charge to remove tobacco products from free trade agreements. These agreements give corporations broad new rights and protections, lower the cost of products, and diminish the regulatory authority of governments. This is all bad news when it comes to tobacco, but worst of all is the further spread of the right of tobacco companies to directly sue governments over tobacco regulations.

As you may recall, ASH saw a major return on its efforts last August, when Malaysia proposed a full exemption for tobacco from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, the first such proposal in the history of trade negotiations. This would mean that all of the rights and privileges afforded to other products would not apply to tobacco, including the right to sue.

Since August, ASH and its allies have worked tirelessly to create a public health consensus in support of exempting tobacco from the TPP and other trade agreements here in the U.S. The list of organizations that now publicly support exemptions – or “carve-outs” – is impressive, and includes the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the National Association of State Legislators, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the National Association of County and City Health Officers, and many others.

On January 27, 2014, we had perhaps our biggest domestic success. The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), the most powerful group of lawyers in the country, whose job it is to defend state legislation against lawsuits, wrote a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman “to request that the United States Trade Representative act to preserve the ability of state and local governments to regulate tobacco products to protect the public health.” Incredibly, this letter was signed by attorneys general from 43 states. According to contacts at NAAG, no issue has garnered such bipartisan support from NAAG in at least a generation.

The fight is not over, but the tide is turning. As TPP negotiations enter the final stages and negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) begin, ASH has ensured that tobacco exemptions are part of the discussion. It is time tobacco was treated as the unique product that it is – the only consumer product that kills when used exactly as intended.

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT

  • OWG on SDGs

The eight Open Working Group (OWG) sessions on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have concluded and the stocktaking phase of the post-2015 agenda is now complete. ASH has been working with the informal health in post-2015 advocacy group to produce a collaborative position paper on health and population dynamics in the post-2015 development framework. The paper includes the priorities for health and proposes how health should be integrated in the SDG framework. This paper will be used for advocacy during the decision-making phase this spring and summer. Click here to read the position paper. An annex with specific recommendations, including proposed targets and indicators, is available here.

  •  ASH at the United Nations

On March 10, 2014, ASH Campaign Coordinator Shana Narula spoke on a panel at the UN for a side event at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 58: The MDGs, Post-2015 and Beijing+20 – regional perspective series (North America and Europe) Programme. She highlighted the significant impact of tobacco and NCDs on women’s health and the importance of integrating tobacco control and NCDs in the post-2015 development agenda, specifically the SDGs. Click here to watch her statement at the 40 minute mark.

  • UN NCD Review and Assessment

The UN General Assembly will host in New York a comprehensive review and assessment on the prevention and control of NCDs to follow up on the 2011 high-level meeting. The review is required as a result of the UN Political Declaration. This meeting is expected to take place in July 2014. In January, the Secretary General released a report outlining the progress made on NCDs since the high level meeting. Click here to read the SG’s progress report.

EYE ON THE INDUSTRY

In 2012, ASH launched the Tobacco Contribution Map highlighting the industry’s involvement in congressional campaigns.  This year we will continue to track contributions by updating the map and in May, during the annual World No Tobacco Day event, will recognize and publicly thank representatives who have not accepted campaign money from the tobacco industry in the last ten years.  We will also take this opportunity to publicly encourage those representatives who do accept tobacco funding to discontinue this practice and stand on the side of public health.  Please stays tuned for more information on our media campaign and the updated map, and urge your representative to refuse tobacco funding.

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Tobacco Control News

 

CVS Demonstrates True Social Responsibility

CVS, the nation’s second largest drug store chain, announced on February 5 that it will stop selling tobacco products at all of its 7000+ stores by October 1st. This is the largest chain of drug stores in the world to refuse to sell tobacco. CVS joins another big retail chain – Target – which made a similar decision in the early 1990s. ASH has congratulated CVS and plans to meet with some of their executives to discuss how they may further combat the tobacco epidemic.

This is welcome news for a number of obvious reasons, and perhaps some less obvious ones. First, the move shows that CVS has clearly placed health and wellness as its highest priority. Second, the move puts greater pressure on other retailers, such as Walgreens and Walmart, to follow suit. Third, it makes it easier for former smokers and those trying to quit to shop without facing the temptation of tobacco displays at the checkout. And fourth, children won’t be exposed to tobacco ads every time they shop with their parents at CVS.

Going deeper into the decision, there is more good news. CVS is a publicly-traded corporation, with shareholders who demand profits. We are not privy to CVS’ analysis, but must assume that they feel this decision will enhance profits in the long term. This not only means other retailers are likely to follow suit, but that tobacco’s profitability in general is on the cusp of a downturn.

This is also good news from a price standpoint. Economics 101 teaches us that when you reduce the supply of a product, the price goes up. Because increasing the price of tobacco – usually through taxes – is one of the best ways to encourage people to quit and to stop children from starting, this alone should have an effect. There may also be small markets where this decrease in supply will have an even greater impact, such as in small towns in rural areas where CVS is the only drug store.

Congratulations to CVS. Now, who will be next?

U.S. Surgeon General Calls for End of Tobacco Epidemic

Fifty years after the first U.S. surgeon general’s report declared smoking a hazard to human health, the tally of smoking-related effects keeps rising, with liver and colorectal cancers, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and even erectile dysfunction joining the list, according to a report released Friday, January 10, 2014.  The report, the first in more than a decade, found that smoking has killed more than 20 million Americans prematurely in the last half century, and warns that, if current trends continue, another 5.6 million children are at risk of dying. “Enough is enough,” acting Surgeon General Dr Boris Lushniak said in a telephone interview. “We need to eliminate the use of cigarettes and create a tobacco-free generation.”  Click here to read the full Surgeon General Report>

FDA Issues First Orders to Stop Sale, Distribution of Tobacco  Products

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued orders in February to stop the further sale and distribution of four tobacco products currently on the market. The action marks the first time the FDA has used its authority under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to order a manufacturer of currently available tobacco products to stop selling and distributing them.  Click here to read the FDA full release>

European Parliament Passes Sweeping Anti-Tobacco Law

The European Parliament stood on the side of public health in the tobacco vote in February.  The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) endorsement strengthens the current European regulation on tobacco in several ways. Among other measures, it increases the size of the pictorial and text health warnings to cover 65% of tobacco packages and bans flavored cigarettes and features on packaging that play down the health risks of smoking. There is evidence to show that these measures encourage smokers to quit and discourage non-smokers from starting.  Click here to read more about the decision>

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 Legal Updates

We have recently started a new blog series on Legal Updates in Tobacco control. In this blog, our Staff Attorney, Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, presents and analyzes legal issues in all aspects of tobacco control, both domestically and internationally. Previous posts have included the legal classification of e-cigarettes as tobacco products, the legality of tobacco marketing, and an analysis of 2013 tobacco control victories. If you would like to learn more about a particular law, case or tobacco regulation or participate in the discussion, please leave a comment on the blog! Check out the Legal Updates Blog here>

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ASH has been very busy this first quarter of 2014 fighting for your health and the health of your loved ones…..for generations to come.

In its most basic role, ASH works tirelessly to ensure that tobacco control is, at the very least, a part of the discussion and that the voice of our movement is heard.  But that is just the first step in achieving ASH’s mission of inspiring and facilitating tangible change.  Our efforts in education, advocacy, and policy negotiation result in tobacco control measures being included in laws at the state and country level, international trade agreements, and global health and economic development goals.

Please help us strengthen our fight by making a donation today.  And, you can rest assured knowing your generous contributions will go even further as ASH strives to minimize expenses and maximize impact.  In fact, our next e-newsletter (and all subsequent newsletters) will be changed to a digest format so we can continue to bring you all the latest news about ASH through a simplified process that will allow staff to devote more time to our crucial programs.

The world is counting on us to stop the disease and death caused by tobacco.  And we are counting on you.

 

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Nigerian Court Upholds Seizure of Cigarettes without Warning Labels

A Federal High Court in Nigeria recently upheld the power of Nigeria’s Consumer Protection Council (CPC) to impound products considered to be harmful or that constitute a health hazard to the unsuspecting Nigerian public – in this case, cigarettes.

Required Warning Labels in Nigeria

In February 2013, CPC made an inspection visit to the Nigerian warehouse of the distributor of Superkings cigarettes for Imperial Tobacco, based in the United Kingdom. The CPC seized over 3,000 cartons of Superkings cigarettes because the products were not in compliance with Nigeria’s laws. Read the law here>

Nigeria’s Industrial Standard requires that the text health warnings on cigarettes occupy 30% of the lower part of each panel of the packets of cigarettes. Read more about tobacco control in Nigeria here> and here>.

The cigarette company argued that this action amounted to an illegal seizure. Justice Evoh Stephen Chukwu held that the right to property was not absolute, affirming that the Superkings cigarettes were not in conformity with the laws and regulations of Nigeria. On those grounds, the case was dismissed.

According to several studies on tobacco warning labels, “adult and youth smokers report that large, comprehensive warning labels reduce smoking consumption, increase motivation to quit and increase the likelihood that they will remain abstinent following a quit attempt.” Read more here>

4.7 million Nigerian adults (ages 15 or older) use tobacco products. Read more about Nigeria’s statistics here> In part due to the decision of the Nigerian Federal High Court, those smokers will now be exposed to health warnings each time they smoke a cigarette.

Congratulations to the Nigerian Federal High Court on enforcing this important issue. ASH encourages Nigeria to take the next step and implement graphic health warnings and/or plain packaging.

Please leave a comment below or continue the conversation with ASH on Facebook or Twitter.

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Dem Senators Urge Navy Secretary to Ban Tobacco Sales on Bases & Ships

“While annual profits from all Department of Defense (DOD) authorized military tobacco sales are roughly $90 million, a DOD report from June 2009 estimated that the annual tobacco-related military health costs and lost productivity are about $1.9 billion, or 21 times greater than the annual sales,” the senators wrote.

The senators cited a 2008 Defense Department study that found smoking rates in all branches of the military was 30.6 percent, compared to 20.6 percent of the general population.

Click here to read the full article>

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Smoking Proves Hard to Shake Among the Poor

MANCHESTER, Ky. — When smoking first swept the United States in the early decades of the 20th century, it took hold among the well-to-do. Cigarettes were high-society symbols of elegance and class, puffed by doctors and movie stars. By the 1960s, smoking had exploded, helped by the distribution of cigarettes to soldiers in World War II. Half of all men and a third of women smoked.

But as evidence of smoking’s deadly consequences has accumulated, the broad patterns of use by class have shifted: Smoking, the leading cause of preventable death in the country, is now increasingly a habit of the poor and the working class.

Read the full New York Times article here>

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Selling a Poison by the Barrel: Liquid Nicotine for E-Cigarettes

A dangerous new form of a powerful stimulant is hitting markets nationwide, for sale by the vial, the gallon and even the barrel.

The drug is nicotine, in its potent, liquid form — extracted from tobacco and tinctured with a cocktail of flavorings, colorings and assorted chemicals to feed the fast-growing electronic cigarette industry.

Click here to read the full article>

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Governments versus Big Tobacco in trade talks

Beginning in the 1950s, trade negotiators evolved an elegant solution to a vexing problem: the risk that poor countries would seize the oil fields, mines, and factories of Western corporations that operated within their borders. Fearful of nationalization or other harsh treatment, multinationals were holding back on investment. Everyone lost.

Click here to read the full article>

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