Dutch lawyer starts criminal case against tobacco firms

A Dutch lawyer and lung cancer patient are planning to take tobacco companies to court for for producing cigarettes designed to turn people into addicts as quickly as possible.

Lawyer Benedicte Ficq and cancer victim Anne Marie van Veen are putting together a criminal case against cigarette producers, arguing that out of court settlements do not go far enough.

‘I want to see tobacco firms prosecuted for deliberately damaging people’s health,’ Ficq told television programme RTL Late Night.

Tobacco firms cannot hide behind the freedom of choice of people to smoke because they are deliberately influencing smokers’ behaviour, Ficq and Van Veen argue.

Read more>

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Earth Day 2016

The harmful impacts of smoking go well beyond each individual smoker. Cigarettes have a negative impact on the environment throughout their entire life cycle – from Earth Day 2016growing the tobacco to disposing of the butts. ASH blogs have highlighted several of the environmental harms of tobacco, including cigarette butt pollution. In honor of Earth Day 2016, we are highlighting the devastating effects that tobacco farming, curing, and manufacturing have on the environment.

Pesticides and fertilizers

Tobacco is a difficult plant to grow, and therefore growers rely on pesticides to protect the plants from insects and disease, and they rely on large amounts of inorganic fertilizers. Some tobacco crops receive up to sixteen applications of chemicals. These chemicals harm birds and other small animals, decrease soil fertility, and in some cases, cause ozone depletion. Tobacco workers, who are unfortunately often children, are also exposed to these toxic chemicals. The chemicals leach into the soil and watercourses, contaminating drinking supplies and food chains.

According to the General Accounting Office, every year an estimated 27 million pounds of pesticides are sprayed onto tobacco fields in the United States, and tobacco ranks sixth among all agriculture in the amount of pesticides applied per acre. Read more here>.


In many developing countries, wood is burned to cure tobacco leaves (in order to dry the leaves before they are transported) and to construct curing barns. An estimated 200,000 hectares of forests and woodlands are cut down each year because of tobacco farming – 5% of global deforestation. This has been a problem particularly in Africa, where tobacco is often cured by smoke. The country of Malawi devotes more than 5% of its farming land to tobacco, and its deforestation rate is the fourth fastest in the world. Read more here>.

Pollution from manufacturing and packaging

The manufacturing of tobacco products also produces an immense amount of waste. In 1995, the global tobacco industry produced an estimated 2.3 billion kilograms of manufacturing waste and 209 million kilograms of chemical waste.

According to one expert, in the United States alone, “eliminating [the production of] cigarettes would yield carbon savings equivalent to raising the fuel efficiency of all cars and trucks by several miles per gallon-or to converting the entire electrical grid of a state like Massachusetts to solar power.” Read more here>.

Over the past century, ten trillion packs of cigarettes have been smoked. As each empty pack weighs about five grams, that adds up to about 110 billion pounds of packaging waste-including paper, ink, cellophane, foil, and glue. This does not include the enormous amount of litter caused by cigarette butts, which are not bio-degradable. Read more here> or read ASH’s blog about cigarette butt pollution here>.

The bottom line? Tobacco is bad for your body and bad for the environment.

This Earth Day, help inform others about the unforeseen environmental harms of tobacco by sharing this blog. Engage with us on twitter (@ASHorg) or Facebook to continue the discussion using #EarthDay

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Are E-Cigarettes a Healthy Way to Quit Smoking?

Supporters say they appear to be effective. Critics say there are better and safer ways to quit smoking.

Read both sides in the Wall Street Journal here>

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Liability: untapped potential in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

ASH Policy Director Chris Bostic, Richard Daynard, and Tamar Lawrence-Samuel (Corporate Accountability International) shed some light on the untapped potential in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
“Article 19 has similar—if not greater—potential to curb the operations of the industry, and therefore the tobacco epidemic.”
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Pepsico, Philip Morris Face Human Rights Resolutions

The resolution urges companies to agree to participate in mediation of any alleged human rights violations if requested by certain governmental agencies identified by the OECD.

It calls for the companies to mediate disputes involving, among other things, freedom of association and collective bargaining, the elimination of forced or compulsory labor, child labor and discrimination.

Read full article>

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New research published by the World Health Organization (WHO)

This new research by the WHO shows the huge opportunity governments have from increasing taxes on tobacco.
WHO found that if cigarette tax increased by US$ 0.8 (or 1 international $) per pack worldwide, as many as 15 million lives of current smokers could be saved, and US$141 billion in extra revenue could be raised.
Read the research here:
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Does Tobacco Violate Human Rights?


Contact: Megan Arendt

Office: 202-659-4310


Does Tobacco Violate Human Rights?

Inter-American Commission Ponders Question

WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 6, 2016 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) heard testimony from experts yesterday on why tobacco should be considered a human rights issue. The thematic hearing, held at the Organization of American States (OAS), was the first time the Commission has formally considered tobacco in its work. Tobacco continues to be the number one cause of preventable death in the world, killing about 6 million people per year and causing incalculable disease and economic costs.

Uruguayan Ambassador to the United States Carlos Gianelli Derois said at an Embassy event recognizing the Commission hearing, “We value the fact that the highest OAS body for human rights has decided to hold a special session on this issue as a gesture that reinforces what President Vázquez said during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly last year: ‘Public health is a key element of the sovereignty of our nations, a right of the people, a factor for the development of our societies and an unavoidable responsibility of the State.’

(L-R) Oscar A. Cabrera, Verónica Schoj, Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Chris Bostic, Belén Rios. Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

(L-R) Oscar A. Cabrera, Verónica Schoj, Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Chris Bostic, Belén Rios.
Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

Expert witnesses from three groups – Action on Smoking and Health (ASH US), the InterAmerican Heart Foundation (FIC Argentina) and the O’Neill Institute at Georgetown University Law Center – argued that the failure of governments to curtail tobacco industry practices such as marketing to children and interfering in public health policy amounted to a violation of obligations under several human rights treaties.

The solution, according to the panelists, is the full implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global treaty which has been joined by nearly every country in the Americas. The United States is one of the few holdouts.

Governments have an obligation to provide citizens with the highest attainable standard of health,” said Laurent Huber, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health. “Implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is entirely attainable, it is extremely cost effective, and we know it works.

Panelists focused in particular on the corruptive practices of the tobacco industry in pushing cigarettes, which kill half of long term users, and advertising that is often aimed at women, young people, children and vulnerable groups. For example, one panelist shared a quote from a tobacco executive who stated “We don’t smoke that s***. We just sell it. We just reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black and the stupid.” – R.J. Reynolds Executive, Cited in, First Tuesday, ITV 1992.

The IACHR does not have the authority to oblige governments to enact tobacco control regulations, but it receives periodic human rights reports from its member governments, and can press to have tobacco issues included. The Commission can be instrumental in creating the political will necessary to advance human rights. The panel presented a number of recommendations on further action by the Commission:

1. Give concrete recommendations to States on how to implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control;

2. Recognize that the tobacco industry has developed aggressive strategies that hinder the effective exercise of the right to health;

3. Collaborate closely with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO);

4. Track and include the issue of tobacco control in all lines of work of the Unit on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; and

5. Include the problem of smoking in its Poverty Report.

Following the joint presentation, the Commissioners responded and posed several thoughtful questions. Commissioner Esmeralda de Troitiño of Panama said that she was “impacted and struck” by the hearing. “To see the internal documents showing that they’ve [the tobacco industry] been lying and denying reality! The industry is overstepping their responsibility and going into corruption. That is the strong link that bonds the Commission and organizations to protect fundamental rights.

Click here to view the presentation that was made and associated photos.




Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is the nation’s oldest anti-tobacco organization dedicated to health for all. ASH was formed in 1967 in response to the U.S. Surgeon General Report in order to use legal action to fight tobacco and protect nonsmokers. Today, because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, ASH uses global tools to counter the global tobacco epidemic. Learn more about our programs at

Follow us on Twitter @ASHOrg and Facebook

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Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Hearing

View the presentation powerpoint in Spanish and in English. Talking points are below per speaker. Video Disclaimer: The first two presenters will speak in Spanish. ASH staff present third and fourth in English.

Background and press information can be found here.

(L-R) Oscar A. Cabrera, Verónica Schoj, Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Chris Bostic, Belén Rios. Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

(L-R) Oscar A. Cabrera, Verónica Schoj, Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Chris Bostic, Belén Rios.
Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

1. Oscar A. Cabrera, The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University, Washington DC

2. Verónica Schoj, Fundación Interamericana del Corazón Argentina

3. Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, ASH > Action on Smoking and Health, Washington, DC

Slide- Tobacco Industry In Its Own Words

Good morning, I’m Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Staff Attorney for Action on Smoking and Health. For the next few minutes, I would like to share with you some examples of what the tobacco industry has to say about themselves and their products and also illustrate how the tobacco industry influences social perception about tobacco.

The tobacco industry markets and sells products that they know to be deadly. In fact, they intentionally advertise to women, young people, children and vulnerable groups such as the LGBT community.

Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, ASH. Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, ASH. Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

In 1998, the Attorney’s General of 46 states came to an agreement with the 5 biggest U.S. tobacco companies about advertising and marketing of tobacco products. During that legal action, thousands of pages of internal industry documents were produced as evidence. Much of what we will share with you today is from those documents. That is how we can truly show the difference between what the tobacco industry knew, and what they said.

Slide- Lied for decades

On this slide, you will see that the internal industry documents tell us that by 19533, RJ Reynolds knew that tobacco causes lung cancer. However, RJ Reynolds and other tobacco companies continued to misrepresent that information and confuse the public about the health effects of tobacco for decades.

The picture on the previous slide, of the men testifying before the United States Congress, was taken in 1994. On that day, 7 tobacco executives swore before Congress that they did not believe that nicotine was addictive. However, internal documents show that the industry knew all about the addictiveness of nicotine- from as early as 1963.

Slide- They got lips?

From the internal documents and even some public statements, we have also found out some of the ways that the tobacco industry targets customers.

Many forms of advertising to children in the U.S. were banned by the 1998 master settlement agreement I previously mentioned, including using cartoons, billboards and free samples.

However, the industry still needs replacement smokers to continue to buy their products as their current customers die from tobacco related diseases. As my colleague will demonstrate later in the presentation, the industry still finds many ways to target children around the world. They have illustrated cigarettes as healthful, slimming, glamourous, adventurous and cool. The industry has grown and changed with the times, and they market to what the current societal standard of “cool” is.

Slide- Project SCUM

The tobacco industry has made a point of targeting vulnerable populations other than children as well. This slide shows a business plan, found in the internal documents, that targets, among others, the LGBT community and the homeless population of San Francisco. RJ Reynolds nicknamed the plan “Project SCUM.”

In addition to advertising, tobacco corporations have utilized many approaches to mislead the public about the harms of tobacco.

One common tool has been “junk science.” The tobacco industry has funded scientific studies that are designed to make their products look less dangerous. This helped them build credibility, develop industry-friendly experts, and create confusion about the health effects of their products.

The industry has also paid doctors to testify on their behalf. For example, 6 physicians have been paid to repeatedly testify that cigarettes do not cause head and neck cancers, despite overwhelming scientific consensus that they do.

Thank you.

4. Chris Bostic, ASH > Action on Smoking and Health, Washington, DC

Slide 1

Chris Bostic, ASH. Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

Chris Bostic, ASH. Credit: Daniel Cima, IACHR

As we’ve heard, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the Americas and the world. But we know how to prevent it – the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The only requirement to implementing the FCTC is political will.

The tobacco industry is keenly aware of this, and has made sapping political will part of its basic business model. While there is often friction between the interests of commerce and the interests of public health, for tobacco it is different. The FCTC itself recognizes that there is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and governments’ public health goals.

The tobacco industry impedes public health policy in a number of ways, many of which we will not be able to address today.

Let me just mention one key industry strategy – litigation.

The tobacco industry has launched hundreds of cases in response to public health measures at the local, national and international levels. The map above is simply a snapshot of major litigation over a recent two-year period.

There is no other business which makes litigation such a major part of its day-to-day functioning. Rule of law is a vital component of modern democracy, and everyone has the right to seek justice. But the tobacco industry abuses this right to a startling degree.

The tobacco industry knows that it does not need to win cases in order to create what is often termed regulatory chill. The mere threat of costly litigation is often enough. Far too often, governments decide not to risk financial catastrophe and back away from strong tobacco control measures.

Slide 2

Litigation under trade agreements is a well-publicized example of the tobacco industry’s global litigation strategy. Typically in other commercial sectors, such cases cost governments between $3 and 8 million in legal costs, not including any settlement.

However, it is part of the tobacco industry’s strategy to inflict the greatest legal costs possible on governments. Cases are intentionally dragged out and made more complicated in order to increase legal costs.

Slide 3

In December 2015, Australia won its trade case against Philip Morris International over its standardized packaging law.

That case cost the Australian government over $50 million, in spite of the fact that the case was thrown out on jurisdictional grounds without ever getting to the merits of the case.

The Uruguayan government is facing a similar suit from Philip Morris, which has already dragged on for years. It will likely cost the tobacco industry far more than their profits from such a small market. But market share in Uruguay is not the industry’s main concern – they know that other governments are unlikely to follow Uruguay’s example if litigation costs in this case are huge. We know that tobacco regulations were dropped in response to trade litigation threats in Togo, Namibia, the Solomon Islands and even Canada.

Slide 4

The tobacco industry is also adept at buying the favor of politicians, through contributions to political campaigns, through lobbying and through outright bribery.

This headline is just one of the most recent, well-documented accusations.

An example from the Americas is illustrative of how the tobacco industry directly influences government officials.

Throughout the 1990s, British American Tobacco and Philip Morris co-ran the so-called “Latin Project”, which paid doctors and scientists to publish selective data to counter the science on secondhand smoke, in order to prevent smoke-free air regulations. This was long after the tobacco industry knew the dangers of secondhand smoke.

In a moment, you will hear more examples of industry interference in the Americas, but I wanted to put these efforts in a global context.

Such actions by the tobacco industry bring up rights well beyond health and life. Issues of political rights, corruption, and justice, to name a few, should also be considered.

And while these are the acts of private corporations, it is government regulations, lack of enforcement and international laws that give space for the tobacco industry to maneuver. The dynamic between the tobacco industry and governments can be changed, and in fact must be changed under the FCTC.

5. Belén Rios, Fundación Interamericana del Corazón Argentina


Background and press information can be found here.

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Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Hearing: Tobacco Addiction and the Right to Health



ASH: Megan Arendt /

O’Neill Institute: Karen Teber /

FIC Argentina: Patricia Gutkowski/

WASHINGTON, DC (March 29, 2016) — For the first time, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights takes up tobacco use as a human rights issue during a hearing on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. Press Kit

The tobacco epidemic has become one of the world’s — and the Americas’ — gravest public health concerns. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one million people in the Americas die each year from tobacco use, while hundreds of millions more are at risk of tobacco-related diseases. Tobacco companies throughout the region continue to aggressively market cigarettes and interfere in tobacco control measures. The O’Neill Institute, ASH, and FIC Argentina will present to the commission about the harms of tobacco, industry interference, and the impact of tobacco marketing on targeted and vulnerable groups. The three organizations will recommend that the commission consider tobacco control as an important measure in pursuit of the highest attainable standard of health.


Hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: tobacco and the right to health in the Americas


Oscar A. Cabrera, The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University, Washington DC

Chris Bostic, ASH > Action on Smoking and Health, Washington, DC

Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, ASH > Action on Smoking and Health, Washington, DC

Verónica Schoj, Fundación Interamericana del Corazón Argentina

Belén Rios, Fundación Interamericana del Corazón Argentina


Tuesday, April 5, 2016; 10:15 – 11:15 am

Interviews can be scheduled with the experts before and after the hearing.


GSB Building of the Organization of American States (OAS)

Padilha Vidal Room

1889 F. Street, NW

Washington, DC 20006


Media pre-registration is not necessary, but members of the press will be required to register prior to entering the OAS building.


This hearing is scheduled to be broadcast live via the IACHR website.







Written testimony from all participants will be posted April 5 at the following links:

O’Neill Institute/Cabrera

ASH/Bostic and Romeo-Stuppy

FIC/Schoj and Rios




Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is the nation’s oldest anti-tobacco organization dedicated to health for all. ASH was formed in 1967 in response to the U.S. Surgeon General Report in order to use legal action to fight tobacco and protect nonsmokers. Today, because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, ASH uses global tools to counter the global tobacco epidemic. Learn more about our programs at

Follow us on Twitter @ASHOrg and Facebook

Fundación Interamericana del Corazón Argentina (INTERAMERICAN HEART FOUNDATION- ARGENTINA)

The Inter-American Heart Foundation is a non-governmental non-profit organization dedicated to reducing heart diseases and stroke, and related non-communicable diseases, in Latin America and the Caribbean region, and to promote health through research, advocacy, public awareness and education. It has members and affiliates in almost all countries in the region.

Follow us on Twitter @ficargentina and on Facebook


The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University is the premier center for health law, scholarship, and policy. Its mission is to contribute to a more powerful and deeper understanding of the multiple ways in which law can be used to improve the public’s health, using objective evidence as a measure. The O’Neill Institute seeks to advance scholarship, science, research, and teaching that will encourage key decision-makers in the public, private, and civil society to employ the law as a positive tool for enabling more people in the United States and throughout the world to lead healthier lives. Add website and social media contacts.

Follow us on Twitter @ONeillInstitute and on Facebook

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Why don’t smokers quit?

The evidence is clear: smoking is horrible for your health, and quitting benefits not only your health, but your wallet. These things are fairly obvious, and non-smokers often ask the same question: “Why don’t smokers quit?”

In fact, about 70% of all smokers want to quit. In any given year, nearly half try to quit. Few of them succeed. Quitting is difficult for many reasons, such as advertising, social pressures, and/or failure to use cessation tools effectively. But quitting smoking is hard for one overarching reason: addiction. Nicotine Addiction

While many of the ingredients in cigarettes are harmful, nicotine is the element that is addictive. According to the World Health Organization, “A cigarette is an efficient, well-engineered nicotine delivery device that has proved to be deadly when smoked regularly. Nicotine from a smoked cigarette will reach the brain in as little as 7 seconds after inhalation.” The addictive effect of nicotine is linked to its capacity to trigger the release of dopamine – a chemical in the brain that is associated with feelings of pleasure.

The tobacco industry has been using nicotine addiction to their advantage since the beginning. And we need your help to stop them.

The industry has been aware of the addictiveness of nicotine since at least the 1960’s, but they lied about it for decades because they argue that smoking is a “free choice”, and therefore they are not responsible for the health consequences of smoking. However, tobacco corporations have long realized that addiction is good for their business.

A British American Tobacco memo from 1979 said, “We also think that consideration should be given to the hypothesis that the high profits additionally associated with the tobacco industry are directly related to the fact that the customer is dependent on the product.”

The tobacco industry STILL tries to downplay the addictiveness of nicotine by comparing it to common activities that people enjoy; the tobacco industry has likened nicotine addiction to cravings for chocolate, love, coffee, tea, soda, the internet and shopping.

Nicotine addiction is not like any of these things.

Nicotine addiction is a contagious disease, spread by tobacco corporations, who manipulate their products to make them more addictive. Tobacco companies have created cigarettes that are highly efficient at delivering nicotine into the body, making it easier to become addicted and harder to quit.

Cigarettes are more addictive now than they have ever been.

Research shows that the nicotine yield, or the amount of nicotine that cigarettes deliver, has increased dramatically over the last 15 years. In fact, it has gone up 15%. These actions are entirely purposeful, designed to ensure that tobacco companies’ customers stay addicted.

This is why ASH is committed to fighting the vector of the tobacco epidemic: the tobacco corporations.

We hit back against big tobacco in trade agreements, the UN global development goals, and with the launch of our criminal liability program. ASH also continues to monitor and publicize big tobacco’s marketing tactics that seek to circumvent public health policies.

We drew attention to their inappropriate partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that was used to strong-arm other countries away from implementing tobacco control measures. And we launched our own media campaigns to portray tobacco products as the deadly consumer products that they are.

Although many people choose to experiment with cigarettes, no one chooses addiction. It is unconscionable that tobacco corporations intentionally manipulate addiction in order to increase their profits.

With your help, we will continue to fight back against tobacco corporations and the death, disease, and destruction that they wreak on our society. We won’t allow future generations to suffer through nicotine addiction. Together, we will build a healthier world for you, your family, and your friends.

Please consider becoming a monthly supporter of our fight against Big Tobacco. Your donation will allow ASH to continue this life-saving battle.

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Petition Delivery

ASH joins allies to demand that the U.S. Department of Justice open an investigation on British American Tobacco (BAT)’s alleged corruption in East Africa.

L – R: Abby McGill (International Labor Rights Forum), G. Akili (Corporate Accountability International), Keira Thompson (Public Citizen), Megan Arendt (ASH)

Chris Bostic meeting the DOJ Public Affairs representative.

Chris Bostic meeting the DOJ Public Affairs representative.

45,091 voices strong

45,091 voices strong

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Hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)

On April 5, 2016, Action on Smoking and Health and two of our partner Press Kitorganizations, Fundación InterAmericana del Corazón Argentina and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, will present to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on the Right to Health, Tobacco Industry Interference, and on Tobacco in the Americas.

This is a watershed moment for ASH’s human rights program, and the first time that tobacco will be brought up as a human rights issue before this commission.

Below we answer some frequently asked questions about tobacco, human rights, and the Commission.

HR video

This video, produced by Youth for Human Rights, explains more about human rights.

What are human rights?

Human rights are rights inherent to all people. Human rights treaties spell out the duties of governments to protect the rights of their citizens. Through their treaty obligations, governments are often required to protect their citizen’s rights to health, life, education, safe and healthy working conditions, and many others.

What is the Inter-American Commission? Is it a court?

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and it meets in regular and special sessions several times a year to examine allegations of human rights violations in the hemisphere, submitted by individual petition, by member states, or by request for a thematic hearing (as in our case). The main goal of the Commission is to protect human rights in the Americas.

The IACHR is not a court. However, along with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, it is one of the institutions that comprise the inter-American system for the promotion and protection of human rights. To draw a loose parallel, if an Inter-American Court case is like a case in front of the Supreme Court of the United States, then the Inter-American Commission hearing would be similar to a Congressional hearing.

The Commission’s human rights duties come from three international documents- the OAS Charter, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and the American Convention on Human Rights.

Why is tobacco a human rights issue?

The founding documents of the Commission ensure the right to life, the protection of children, the right to health, the right to education, and the right to healthy work conditions, all of which are violated by tobacco and/or tobacco corporations and allowed by governments, illustrated by the following facts:

Right to life/ health

• Tobacco use kills nearly six million people worldwide each year

• Latin America has 145 million smokers, between 8-10% of the smokers in the world.

• Tobacco will kill ten million Latin Americans between 2013 and 2025

Protection of children

• Youth tobacco usage in the region is on the rise, with 13.16 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 18 smoking.

Right to Education

• Graphic warning labels are effective in dissuading smokers but only 16 Latin American countries require graphic health warnings covering at least 50 percent of the main display areas of a package.

Right to healthy work conditions

• Seventeen countries in the Americas have adopted 100 percent smoke-free laws but these account for only 46 percent of the region’s population.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

• Five of 35 countries in the Americas still need to join the 180 parties to the FCTC

• Argentina, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, United States

What is tobacco industry interference?

Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the global tobacco treaty, states that “parties shall protect [tobacco control] policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.”

However, the tobacco industry interferes in tobacco control laws and tobacco control education in many ways all around the world, through lawsuits, interference with legislation, deceptive and targeted advertising, and utilizing front groups. We will discuss some of the examples of these tactics during the hearing.

What are you asking the Commission for?

ASH and our partners asked the Commission for a thematic hearing on tobacco and human rights in Latin America for several reasons. The Commission observes the general situation of human rights in Member States and publishes reports – we would like to see tobacco included in those reports. The Commission can also recommend that member states adopt measures that contribute to the protection of human rights. We would like the Commission to encourage all members to fully implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which embodies global best practices for tobacco control.

Finally, the Commission also fosters public awareness of human rights issues. Many people, including human rights professionals, have not considered tobacco as a human rights issue. We intend to show them why they should, and we hope that after the hearing, the Commission will help spread that awareness throughout the region.

Can I attend?

Join the conversation on social media using #HRcommission

Yes! The hearing is Tuesday, April 5, 2016 from 10:15 AM to 11:15 AM in the Padilha Vidal Room at the Organization of American States. The address is 1889 F Street NW, Washington, D.C. 2006. If you are unable to make it in person, the hearing will also be streaming live here>.

Want to learn more about tobacco and human rights?

Check out our Human Rights Violations and Human Rights Resources webpages, and check back after the hearing to read our presentation materials and watch the video of the hearing.

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Big Tobacco takes hit; City Council bolsters anti-smoking efforts

Big Tobacco took it on the chin Wednesday when Chicago raised its smoking age to 21, outlawed discounts, slapped a $6 million tax on cigars, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco and banned chaw altogether at sports stadiums.

Read more>

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California Lawmakers Vote to Raise Smoking, Vaping Age to 21

California lawmakers voted Thursday to raise the legal age for purchasing and using tobacco and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21, putting the nation’s most populous state on the brink of becoming only the second after Hawaii to bar teenagers from lighting up, dipping or vaping.

Before it can become law, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown must sign the legislation, which has already passed the state Assembly.

Read on>

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WHO warns governments that Big Tobacco is undermining protocol to combat smuggling

The Secretariat for the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recently sent the following Note Verbal to all Missions of Parties in Geneva to alert them to prevent interference from the tobacco industry on the tracking and tracing system.

FCTC Secretariat Note Verbale_industry interference_4-Mar-2016

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Manhattan Co-op Resident Wins $120K In Lawsuit Over Secondhand Smoke Infiltration

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge has awarded a co-op apartment owner more than $120,000 in maintenance and fees after she sued over damage to her place from people smoking in neighboring apartments, which she said also affected her health.

Read more>

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Raise the Legal Age for Cigarette Sales to 21

The biggest reason to raise the legal age to 21 is to reduce young people’s access to tobacco when they are more likely to become addicted and when their brains are still developing. Studies have found that nicotine, the main addictive ingredient in cigarettes, can impair cognition among young people. About 90 percent of adult smokers first use cigarettes before turning 19, and almost all smokers start before age 26, according to an Institute of Medicine study published last year.

Read full NYT Editorial Board piece>

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Tougher smoking laws passed in Queensland

Queensland has passed some of the toughest smoking laws in the country.

From September 1, lighting up will be outlawed at or near childcare facilities, bus stops and taxi ranks, public pools, children’s sporting venues, skate parks and outdoor malls.

The new laws also ban the sale of tobacco products from pop-up retail outlets, such as at music festivals.

Read more>

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Major NY Law Firm Brags of Denying Smokers ‘Standard of Care’ For ‘Early Detection of Lung Cancer’

A legal victory is one thing but ​for lawyers for a tobacco company to publicly celebrate denying potential cancer victims the best way of identifying lung disease as early as possible seems reprehensible. . . even for a law firm. ​

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Tobacco plain packaging likely to be law in New Zealand by end of year

A law that would force tobacco companies to wrap their cigarettes in plain packaging could be in action by the end of the year.

Prime Minister John Key has confirmed a bill, on pause partway through the parliamentary process, would be resumed and he expected it to become law “sooner as opposed to later”.

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How Tobacco Companies Factor into the Presidential Primaries

As the first primary elections begin, you are probably thinking about a lot of factors when considering who to vote for. But have you thought about how tobacco plays into the election?

Many people consider tobacco a public health issue, so when voting, your candidate’s support for tobacco control legislation may be an important factor. But, very few people consider whether their candidate has accepted campaign financing from Big Tobacco. And they should; financing from Big Tobacco can have a huge impact on public health.

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the world today, and it is the only product on the market that, when used exactly as intended, kills. About half a million Americans die prematurely each year because of tobacco use, including nonsmokers who die from secondhand tobacco smoke.

There is an irreconcilable conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and public health.

Candidates that accept campaign funding from Big Tobacco may feel obligated to pass laws that protect and support the tobacco industry, instead of laws that protect and support public health. Lawmakers should be on the side of public health, not the tobacco industry. It is their obligation to keep their constituents healthy and safe from the harms of tobacco products.

Here is an infographic of presidential candidates who have accepted the most money from the tobacco industry in the 2016 election cycle. As you can see, this is a problem that crosses party lines: both Democrats and Republicans have accepted money from tobacco corporations.

Thank you to Center for Responsive Politics for the finance data, and please check back for our more detailed campaign contributions map, including Congressional races, in fall 2016.

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35 Health Groups Urge Congress to Support Trans-Pacific Partnership Provision Protecting Health Measures from Tobacco Industry Attacks

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As the United States and 11 other countries prepare to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement later today, 35 leading public health and medical groups today urged Congress to support a TPP provision that protects life-saving tobacco control measures from tobacco industry legal attacks under the agreement.

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On Twitter, e-cigarette ads spread like secondhand smoke

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

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

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Potentially pivotal suit pits smokers vs. Big Tobacco

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

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

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The True Cost of Smoking by State

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

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

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

Key Findings

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


Read full report here>

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