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.
Annually, the tobacco industry contributes over $1.6 million to federal candidates and spends approximately $16.6 million lobbying Congress.
This money buys the tobacco industry access to government officials and influence over laws. This is a serious problem because there is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy interests.
This is not a problem for one party; politicians on both sides of the aisle accept tobacco industry campaign contributions. This is not a problem for just one state; 46 states have candidates who accepted some campaign funds from the tobacco industry. The only states that have no state level candidates that accepted funds from tobacco corporations during the 2013-2014 election are Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, DC. Industries that threaten public health should not control public health policy.
On a positive note, this spring, in honor of World No Tobacco Day, ASH certified 193 Senators and Congressman as “Free From Tobacco Money,” an award given to those representatives that have not accepted any campaign contributions from tobacco in the last 10 years. Read more here>
The tobacco industry has always been a major player in congressional campaigns, and tomorrow, the ASH Tobacco Campaign Contribution Map highlights just how pervasive tobacco money is in politics.
Check the ASH Tobacco Campaign Contribution Map to see how much your state representative has received from tobacco corporations in the 2013-2014 election, and then write, tweet or call your representative and tell them why it’s important that they refuse tobacco funding.
Not sure who your representative is? Find out here>
In the past, the United States has been a leader in tobacco control. For the last 15 years, though, the U.S. has been falling behind as other countries have moved to protect their people from tobacco addiction and death.
For example, when it comes to tobacco prices, there are huge inconsistencies in America. The average cost of a pack of 20 cigarettes in the United States is $6.36, but this varies widely by state. A pack of Marlboro’s costs $10.08 in New York, but only $4.20 in Georgia. See more about state tobacco taxes>.
There is a direct correlation between the price of cigarettes and willingness of children to take up the habit.
The 2014 Surgeon General’s report called for an increase in cigarette prices to at least $10 a pack. Only one state, New York, currently meets that goal. The World Bank recommends that at least 67% of the retail price of tobacco products comes from taxes. Even the highest taxes in the U.S., in New York City and Chicago, do not reach that goal. Taxes in those cities are about 65%, but the average in the U.S. is 44.2%. Read more here>
This issue is so important that the World Health Organization chose to focus on it for World No Tobacco Day 2014. Increasing the price of tobacco products is the single most effective way to prevent initiation among nonsmokers and to reduce consumption.
On average, raising tobacco taxes to increase retail prices by 10% is estimated to reduce tobacco use by 4% in high-income countries and by about 5% in low- and middle-income countries. WHO calculates that if all countries increased taxes on cigarette packs by 50%, there would be 49 million fewer smokers (38 million fewer adult smokers and 11 million fewer young future smokers), and this would avert 11 million deaths from smoking. To learn more read the WHO brochure on Tobacco Taxes>
The United States should learn from the best practices on tobacco taxes in other countries. In London, a pack of Marlboro’s costs $14. In Norway, it costs $15.11. In Australia, within the next five years, it will cost about $20 to buy a pack of cigarettes. The U.S. is lagging behind on tobacco taxes. See more about international tobacco taxes in the Tobacco Atlas>
This is an area where states and localities can take action – each government is responsible for the health of its citizens and should do its best to protect against the harms of tobacco. In order to meet the goals set out in the Surgeon General’s report and by the World Bank, and more importantly, in order to save lives, the United States should learn from international best practices and implement higher tobacco taxes.
To read more about the lessons U.S. states can learn from international best practices on tobacco control, please read our new report: The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: An Implementation Guide for U.S. State and Local Officials.
State and local officials interested in sample legislation and other tools can also visit our database at http://ash.org/usfctcimplementationguide/.
50 years ago the 1st Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health clearly established the terrible toll taken by tobacco on the health of smokers and set the United States on a public health campaign to rid the nation of the threat posed by the use of tobacco to the smoker and to those involuntarily exposed to second-hand smoke.
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has been a part of that campaign from the outset. But while the campaign has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the prevalence of tobacco use, far too many young people are still enticed into a life of addiction to tobacco and far too many Americans continue to suffer and die as a result of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.
In view of the global reach of the tobacco industry, ASH has played a key role for the past 15 years to extend the campaign to stem the epidemic of tobacco related disease beyond the United States to countries around the world through the development of the 1st treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
Although the FCTC has been signed, but not ratified by the United States, it provides a useful pathway to states and localities to update their tobacco control efforts and to advance the public health campaign that was started 50 years ago.
As a physician who witnesses the pain and suffering caused by tobacco use day in and day out, I welcome the release of ASH’s report The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: An Implementation Guide for U.S. State and Local Officials.
I hope public health officials at all levels of government will measure their tobacco control efforts against the standards set by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. I also urge members of state legislatures to strongly consider motions expressing support for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and prod the federal government to ratify the convention.
Dr. Alfred Munzer, MD
Board of Trustees
Action on Smoking and Health
The CDC identifies reducing tobacco as a “Winnable Battle” because tobacco is a public health priority with “large-scale impact on health and with known, effective strategies to address them.”
For ASH, the ability to significantly improve the protection of U.S. citizens from tobacco-related damage, disease, and death is the driver behind our work in public health. Eradicating the tobacco epidemic should be a major national priority because tobacco use is still the #1 preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing about 480,000 Americans each year. Tobacco use is responsible for over 20% of all American deaths.
But, as Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” That principle is what ASH stands by and that principle is what ASH hopes to inspire others to believe in when reading our latest report: The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: An Implementation Guide for U.S. State and Local Officials.
To combat the tobacco epidemic, countries around the world negotiated and implemented, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The FCTC, the world’s 1st international health treaty, is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health and includes measures that encourage nations to take an all-encompassing approach to effective tobacco policy.
The United States, unfortunately, is not a party to the FCTC, but the FCTC and its guidelines still provide excellent tobacco control strategies that can be implemented in American states, counties, cities, and towns.
Here at ASH, we are firm believers in the concept “change begins at home.” That is why we created this FCTC Implementation Guide for U.S. State and Local Officials. The guide illustrates how effective FCTC policies and useful strategies from other countries can be implemented by state and local officials in their home jurisdictions. The guide also provides model legislation and legal resources to assist local lawmakers in creating tobacco control policies.
Implementation of FCTC measures at the state and local levels would provide many more Americans with the much needed protection from the damage, disease, and death attributed to tobacco products and their use.
While ASH strongly advocates for U.S. ratification and implementation of the FCTC, national ratification is not a prerequisite for local action. This guide is intended to help U.S. state and local officials take steps toward making their communities increasingly free from tobacco.
For more information and resources please read the ASH WHO FCTC U.S. State and Local Implementation Guide and visit our database.