Criminal Cases about Consumer Products

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

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


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

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

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



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

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

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


Peanut Butter

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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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

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Video Exposé on a Deadly Consumer Product


Contact: Megan Arendt, 202-659-4310


Video Exposé on a Deadly Consumer Product

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Press Kit and video can be found here:

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



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

Follow us on Twitter @ASHOrg and Facebook

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Obama’s Legacy on Tobacco

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

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

Read on>

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Racial Politics Flavor Debate Over Banning Menthol Cigarettes

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

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

Read on>

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

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

Criminal Liability KRS at WCTOH

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

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

Human Rights

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

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

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

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2015 ASH Newspaper

Year end letter 2015_Page_1

Year end letter 2015_Page_2

Donate Now

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Breaking News Broadcast

Download Press Kit Here>

An exposé on one product causing death worldwide

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


Super Villain           Life Saver



Legal Tactics

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

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

Legal Strategies

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

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

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

Press Release

Latest Update

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

Legitimizing Tobacco

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

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

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

Click here for an example


Delegitimizing Tobacco

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing Tobacco

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

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

Marketing Public Health

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

o Continuing to share the case studies online and among partners

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

Huffington Post Blog

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

– Flash Mob protest in Times Square


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


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

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

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

Donate Now

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ASH 2015 Trade Report Card

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Huge progress made thanks to court case against Dutch State

Dutch government draws up rules for contacts with tobacco industry

via Youth Smoking Prevention Foundation

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

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

Important results

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

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

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Argentine Supreme Court upholds tobacco marketing ban

November 3, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, please consider supporting our crucial workDonate Now

at ASH by making a donation today.

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Smoked meat is NOT as dangerous as smoked tobacco

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

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

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

So to set the record straight…

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

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

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

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


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

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American Pediatrics say to raise the legal min age for tobacco to 21

In a comprehensive set of policies issued during its National Conference & Exhibition, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) presents extensive recommendations to protect our nation’s youth from the pernicious effects of tobacco and nicotine.

The AAP now strongly recommends the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, should be increased to age 21 nationwide.

Read on>

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Call the White House: Tues, Oct 27

Take action! 

Call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 on Tuesday, October 27th and ask President Obama to stand up for our kids and public health by giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, and hookah. TFK - Deeming Day of Action


Talking Points

– I’m calling today to ask President Obama to finalize regulations to give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to protect our kids and the public health from e-cigarettes, cigars and hookah.

– Over 2 million kids are now using e-cigarettes, 1.4 million kids are smoking cigars and 1.6 million smoke hookah.  There is NO federal oversight of these products and the companies are using candy and fruit-flavored products to target kids.  It is past time to close the e-cigarette and cigar loophole.

– [Insert a brief personal story on why this is important to you.  It might be that you don’t want your kids to use tobacco products, that you are or were a smoker, or you just want to protect our nation’s health.]

– Thank you. I hope we can count on the President to protect our kids from all tobacco products.

You can also tweet @WhiteHouse using #NoTobacco4Kids.

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Michael Bloomberg says big tobacco preys on the world’s poor

Bloomberg said: “Someday somebodies going to come along and say to the people who are running these companies, you are killing people. If you kill somebody on the streets with a gun or beat them over the head, we put you in jail or worse.

“These people [tobacco companies] deliberately go out every day and try to kill, for their own profits, the poor around the world. A billion people will still die from smoking this century.”

Read full article>

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International Day of the Girl

In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges that girls face around the world. Girls and women around the world face challenges unique to their gender- discrimination, violence, education disparities- but one issue that is often forgotten is tobacco.

Approximately 176 million adult women worldwide are daily smokers. In the U.S., 17.7 million females over the age of 15 are daily smokers, and 8.5% of girls in the U.S. age 15-19 smoke. Read more here>.

Big tobacco specifically targets women and girls with advertising that attempts to show smoking as glamorous and to portray smokers as independent, successful, and thin. Women often smoke or continue smoking in order to lose or control weight. Big Tobacco is well aware of this and many companies have had advertising campaigns focused on weight.

*Lucky Strike, 1929

*Lucky Strike, 1929

*Silva Thins, 1972

*Silva Thins, 1972











Advertising that targets women and girls often highlights smoking as glamorous, sophisticated, or sexy, all of which are particularly attractive to teenagers. Obviously, what is considered sexy or cool has changed dramatically over time, but tobacco companies have kept up with the trends, as a way to attract younger consumers. These ads are often found in magazines, many with youth readership like PeopleTimeRolling Stone, and Entertainment Weekly. Read more here>.

 *Lucky Strike, 1932

*Lucky Strike, 1932

*Brown and Williamson, 1993

*Brown and Williamson, 1993

*German Advertisement, Philip Morris International, 2012

*German Advertisement, Philip Morris International, 2012









Big tobacco has even capitalized on women’s rights movements and gender equality.

*Philip Morris, 1951

*Philip Morris, 1951

*Philip Morris, 1995

*Philip Morris, 1995











Tobacco companies go beyond just ads in an attempt to target girls. Many products, packaging, and flavors are designed to lure in female smokers, often in shades of pink. Big tobacco also sponsors parties and giveaways.

*Photo-, RJ Reynolds, present

*Photo-, RJ Reynolds, present

*R.J. Reynolds, 2004

*R.J. Reynolds, 2004

*Nat Sherman, present

*Nat Sherman, present


Tobacco advertising campaigns are targeted at girls early and often, at the cash register, in magazines, and at parties. To see more about tobacco advertising, watch our video Don’t Be A Target. Each year, more than 200,000 women in the U.S. and 1.5 million women around the world die from tobacco related diseases. This year on International Day of the Girl, be sure to think, talk, and tweet about how damaging tobacco and tobacco advertising are to women and girls.

Talk about this problem on twitter with #dayofthegirl and make sure to tag @AshOrg!


**Unless otherwise cited, the photos are courtesy of Stanford School of Medicine Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising. Please see their excellent resources, available here>.**

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Breaking: Tobacco Carve-Out in TPP


Contact: Megan Arendt

Office: 202-659-4310


Tobacco Carve-Out in TPP, Major Victory for Public Health

Removes New Weapon for Tobacco Industry

WASHINGTON, DC – Monday, October 5, 2015 – In a major victory for public health, negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement concluded this morning with built-in protections to prevent private corporations from suing governments over anti-tobacco regulations. The victory comes after years of pressure from a vast coalition of health groups and pro-health legislators, including Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), to protect the right of governments to regulate tobacco without fear of expensive lawsuits. The tobacco industry, along with its allies in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups, fought hard to ensure that overseas marketing of tobacco products – the only consumer product to kill when used as intended – could continue unabated.

“We would have preferred a blanket exemption for tobacco in the Agreement, denying increased rights for the tobacco industry across the board,” said Laurent Huber, Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health. “However, ISDS was the most worrisome aspect of the TPP, and now the tobacco industry cannot use it to block or delay life-saving measures.” Malaysia proposed just such a full carve-out for tobacco, but ultimately could not achieve full consensus.

The carve-out represents a sea change in the U.S. stance on tobacco and trade. When TPP negotiations began in 2008, the office of the United States Trade Representative insisted that no product should be singled out for special treatment, whatever the damage to the public. Under pressure from health groups, the U.S. offered a so-called “safe harbor” proposal in 2012, which paid lip service to the unique nature of tobacco but did little to legally protect regulations from trade lawsuits. A year later, U.S. negotiators backed away from even this small step after a concerted campaign by the Chamber of Commerce and pro-tobacco legislators.

Last week in the final round of negotiations, the U.S. formally proposed an exemption in the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism for tobacco products, effectively blocking the tobacco industry from launching trade disputes under the TPP. The proposal was agreed to by the other 11 countries.

The TPP, if ratified by the twelve nations involved, will become the world’s largest free trade agreement, incorporating about 40% of the global economy. Once submitted, the U.S. Congress will have 90 days to consider the Agreement. Earlier this year, Congress granted the Obama Administration Trade Promotion Authority, or “fast-track,” which means that Congress cannot offer amendments but must vote the Agreement up or down. A small number of pro-tobacco legislators have vowed to try to kill the Agreement over the tobacco carve-out.

The tobacco industry has a long history of using costly litigation to inspire “regulatory chill,” or a fear among governments that enacting tobacco control measures will be too expensive to defend. As ISDS mechanisms in trade and investment agreements have multiplied, Big Tobacco has become an eager user. One of the Parties to the TPP, Australia, is in the midst of an ISDS challenge launched by Philip Morris International over its implementation of plain packaging for tobacco products. Several other countries have held off on plain packaging due to the likely legal costs. The TPP is the first major trade agreement to carve-out protections for tobacco measures.

In spite of a global treaty to address tobacco – the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – trade ministries have continued to treat tobacco products like any other commodity, working to increase consumption while health ministries have struggled in the opposite direction.

“We can’t end the tobacco epidemic unless we’re all rowing in the same direction,” said Alfred Munzer, Chair of Action on Smoking and Health. “The language in the TPP is a stroke in the right direction.”



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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Push grows to target tobacco, health in Pacific trade rules

No final consensus has been reached on whether any exclusion would target only tobacco companies or shield a wider range of government regulations from legal action, but Australia’s Andrew Robb is optimistic about his country’s push for a broad carve-out for both health and environmental regulations.

“I think we’re on track, but there’s not a final decision yet,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of the Atlanta meetings.

Similar rules in a separate trade treaty allowed Marlboro maker Philip Morris to sue Australia over tobacco plain-packaging laws banning branded cigarette packs.

Read more>

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UN Officially Recognizes that Tobacco Makes the World Poorer


Contact: Megan Arendt

Office: 202-659-4310


UN Officially Recognizes that Tobacco Makes the World Poorer

Sustainable Development Goals Adopted at UN Summit

NEW YORK, NY – Friday, September 25, 2015 – Today, the United Nations General Assembly formally adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a plan to eradicate global poverty. The goals formally recognize, on a global scale, the negative impact of tobacco consumption on health, wealth, and development and commit member governments to combat the ongoing tobacco epidemic, especially through the implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The FCTC is the first global health treaty; its objective “is to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.”

“It is our hope that the SDGs will raise the profile of the FCTC and provide desperately needed resources for poor countries to fully implement it,” said Laurent Huber, Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a DC-based health organization.

ASH is pleased to have worked at the center of the campaign at the UN that resulted in the integration of tobacco control in the SDGs. This collaborative work with our international partners convinced the global community of the necessity of elevating the tobacco epidemic as a development priority.

The SDGs are a 15-year plan to reduce poverty across the globe. They follow on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adopted in 2000 and sunsetting at the end of 2015. But the SDGs are not simply a continuation of the MDGs. UN Summit 2

Key differences include:

– The new recognition of the growing impact of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) on health and poverty, especially in low and middle income countries. Tobacco is the leading risk factor for NCDs.

– The SDGs apply to all UN members, including high income countries like the U.S. While Americans enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world, there are still pockets of poverty among several socio-economic groups. This disparity is especially true for tobacco use, which is increasingly becoming a disease of the poor in the U.S.

“We have made important progress in combatting tobacco in the 50+ years since the 1964 U.S. Surgeon General’s report made the first official connection between tobacco and disease clear,” said Dr. Alfred Munzer, chair of ASH. “However, tobacco still costs over half a million lives and over $300 billion a year, just in America. The global toll of 6 million lives is staggering. This is unacceptable.” Dr. Munzer, a pulmonologist, has been advocating against tobacco use for more than 40 years and is a past president of the American Lung Association.

The World Health Organization estimates that, unless urgent action is taken, tobacco will cost one billion lives this century.

The SDGs serve as a roadmap for global development, including international assistance. The inclusion of tobacco and the FCTC was a victory for public health groups over the interests of the tobacco industry, who lobbied hard to keep tobacco out of the final agreement. The FCTC has been ratified by 179 countries, but while its measures have been identified as low cost, “best buy” policies by the WHO, its implementation has been mixed, partially due to a lack of resources.

One ready source of funds for tobacco control and development is tobacco taxation, the most proven method to reduce tobacco use. “Only a small portion of the money raised through higher tobacco taxes would be needed for implementation of tobacco control measures,” added Mr. Huber. “The rest could be available for other development needs. And society would be further rewarded with lower health care costs in the future. This is a triple win.” This strategy was confirmed by a parallel UN negotiation meeting called “Funding for Development,” which highlighted tobacco taxes as an ideal source of development resources.

The SDGs will come into force on January 1, 2016. Individual targets to track implementation and success are still in draft form, but include the reduction of prevalence of tobacco use. Several U.S. states fall short of that goal and have work to do over the next 15 years.




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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What does peanut butter have to do with tobacco?

Recently, a landmark case was decided in federal court in Georgia. The subject of the case? Peanut butter.

The Peanut Butter Case: United States of America vs. Stewart Parnell

From 2008-2009, there was an outbreak of salmonella infections in the U.S., an epidemic eventually linked to contaminated peanut butter. As many as 20,000 people may have been sickened, and 9 people were killed.

In January of 2009, a peanut butter company called PCA ceased production and shipments, and recalls were issued. The recalls were not only for peanut butter packaged by PCA. More than 200 companies recalled a total of 3,918 products which included PCA peanut butter or peanut paste as an ingredient. It is likely the most expensive recall over a single ingredient in U.S. history. peanut corp

Rodent droppings, dead insects, a leaking roof, and broken roasting equipment were found to be behind the contaminated peanut butter. Fraud was also rampant. PCA and its executives were so concerned with sales that they put, in writing, instructions to employees to ignore safety.

The case has been making its way through the court system, with both civil litigation and a criminal case. In July of this year, the U.S. Probation Office recommended a life sentence for Stewart Parnell, the former CEO of PCA, following his multiple felony conviction for “knowingly selling tainted peanut butter” that ended up killing nine people. In addition to imprisonment, PCA is facing a $11.2 million dollar fine. On September 21, 2015, Parnell was sentenced to 28 years in prison, the harshest penalty on record related to food-borne illness. Read more about the case here> and here>.

But what does this case have to do with tobacco?

Based on research ASH has undertaken, criminal charges could be filed against tobacco corporations and executives, just like the peanut butter corporation. ASH has been investigating this possibility, particularly concentrating on the charges of manslaughter and/or criminally negligent homicide, because of the deaths caused by tobacco use.

How is this case similar?

  • Both tobacco corporations and PCA “knowingly distributed” a potentially toxic product
  • Both PCA and tobacco corporations continued to manufacture and sell products they knew to be dangerous.
  • People died from these products
    • Although you could also call this a big difference – 9 people died from salmonella tainted peanut butter; the death count for tobacco might reach 1 billion in the 21st
  • Some of the criminal charges would be similar; for example, conspiracy and fraud.

How is this case different?

  • The PCA peanut butter was under FDA jurisdiction and therefore the criminal charges came under an FDA act (the Food Safety Modernization Act) instead of state or federal criminal law.
  • The peanut butter case did not include charges for manslaughter, which tobacco executives could likely be charged with.
  • As stated above, the damage done by tobacco is on a much broader scale.


Despite some differences, much about the peanut butter case rings true with tobacco as well. As Peter Hurley, a Portland, Oregon police officer and the father of a child who got Salmonella poisoning from Parnell peanut paste, told Congress: “If someone is convicted of a felony in the criminal justice system, they go to prison and are not allowed to vote. But, if you poison Americans via their food supply what are the consequences? You pay a fine and keep producing? Is this right? Is this what we as Americans want?” Read more here>.

It isn’t right, and Americans should demand justice in all cases where corporations that knowingly sell deadly products, especially for big tobacco.

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


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The experiences of an ASH intern (Part 2)

Guest Blog: Continued from Here

By Matt Romeo


As part of the communications aspect of my internship, I got to dress-up as “Jeff the Diseased Lung” from HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver to protest the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s relationship with Big Tobacco. I never imagined that I would dress up in a character suit and join in a rally this summer. I had a lot of fun dressing up as Jeff, but I also learned something from it. In order for a non-profit to be successful, it needs to come up with creative ideas in order to attract the attention of the public and get their message out.

By dressing as Jeff the Diseased Lung and going to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ASH and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) attracted the attention of hundreds of people who otherwise would have been ignorant to the Chamber’s role in blocking tobacco control legislation. Even though some of the bystanders did not fully understand all of the policy issues, at least they were reminded of the fact that smoking is bad for your health.

Creative campaigns like the Smoking Hot campaign or Jeff the Diseased Lung promote a non-profit’s cause by connecting with the general public in terms they understand. An effective and creative communications department plays a key role in the success of a non-profit.

Meetings and Presentations

In the second week of my internship, I had the privilege of attending a presentation by ASH’s Executive Director, Laurent Huber, and several other panel members at the Pan-American Health Organization Headquarters (PAHO), through the Global Tobacco Control Leadership Program at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The program focuses on how organizations around the globe can influence public policy makers and challenge interest groups that support the tobacco industry.

Since this was early on in my internship, I found a lot of the information quite complex for me to understand; however, I did take away one very important thing from the presentation. The fight against the tobacco industry truly is a unified global effort. There were representatives for organizations from Europe, Asia and North America, all expressing the same concerns about the damage done by the tobacco industry. All of them left with valuable knowledge to make a united effort against tobacco around the world.

I also got to observe some of ASH’s “strategic planning” for the next several years. The one overarching theme seemed to be that non-profits need to have a very clear and well thought-out plan for their future. In addition, I got to sit in on the weekly staff meetings at ASH. Like the strategic planning sessions, this is where the direction of the organization is determined, only on a smaller scale. Each staff member is given an opportunity to present on updates for their program, and then the staff talks about if they are headed in the direction they would like to be headed in.

NGOs have to ensure that each decision they make is cost-effective and worth the limited amount of time each staff member has. I thoroughly enjoyed attending these meetings, because it gave me a good insight into the direction of the organization. I learned a lot from attending meetings and presentations this summer.  I left each meeting in awe of what people could achieve in just one short week and inspired to work harder.


What did I do this summer?  I had the opportunity to learn about how a non-profit organization works through research, communications and attending meetings, all while serving the fight against Big Tobacco. I was able to develop a college campus divestment tool kit and comprehend all that goes into anti-tobacco work.

Best of all, I was able to learn and grow throughout my summer at ASH, thanks to a supportive and highly motivated staff. I had a great experience with ASH this summer, and as I go back to school, I will continue to stand with health and support ASH’s great work.


Read Part 1


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Big Trade Agreements … Big Tobacco

By Chris Bostic, for Health and Trade Network

As the role of tobacco companies in trade agreements on both sides of the Atlantic has been highlighted by a series of controversial events in recent weeks, this HaT paper is presented as a summary of the current key issues in the TPP and the TTIP, with implications for tobacco industry influence over trade agreements in general.

While it is clear that tobacco is an exceptionally deadly product, deserving of its own global convention and strong regulation, the influence of the tobacco industry from leaf growers to ‘big tobacco’ on trade agreements remains incredibly strong. 

Read on>

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Tobacco consumption plunges in Australia: plain packaging

The latest ABS National Accounts figures show tobacco consumption fell a further 2.2 per cent in the June quarter.

Tobacco consumption has now plunged 13 per cent over the past 12 months, and a staggering 19.6 per cent in the almost three years since Labor’s plain packaging laws came into effect.

Read on>

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New study links e-cig use in teens to smoking initiation

Importance  Exposure to nicotine in electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) is becoming increasingly common among adolescents who report never having smoked combustible tobacco.

Objective  To evaluate whether e-cigarette use among 14-year-old adolescents who have never tried combustible tobacco is associated with risk of initiating use of 3 combustible tobacco products (ie, cigarettes, cigars, and hookah).

Read on>

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The experiences of an ASH intern (Part 1)

Guest Blog: What I did this summer

By Matt Romeo

This summer I was given the opportunity to intern at ASH to learn about the inner workings of a non-profit organization and its role in tobacco control. Before I started my internship, I had a limited understanding of what ASH does and its push for tobacco control. Yet after a summer of incredible experiences and with the mentoring of a wonderful staff, I learned a lot about the disease, damage and death caused by tobacco and gained many valuable insights.

My First Day

Like any first day of a job or internship, I was a little nervous. My understanding of tobacco control was limited and I only knew a little bit about ASH’s role. After completing a quick review of ASH’s website, I was given a briefing on what ASH does. ASH is the secretariat of the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA), which was formed to support the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The FCTC, ratified by 179 of the 194 World Health Organization member states, is the first global public health treaty and a major step forward in terms of tobacco control.

In addition to their work with the FCA, ASH also has several other programs that serve different tobacco control purposes. These programs include: the Tobacco Criminal Liability Project, the Tobacco Industry Monitoring program, the trade program and a program on Sustainable Development Goals. While the explanation only took about fifteen minutes, it took me almost the entire summer to comprehend the full breadth and depth of ASH’s tobacco control efforts.

With all the acronyms and technical terms, ASH’s work can be confusing to someone who does not have a background in tobacco control. The easiest way to understand what ASH does is to look at tobacco in two ways. There are organizations that promote cessation programs, programs that help current tobacco users quit, and then there are organizations that promote preventative measures, either through anti-tobacco campaigns, legislation or legal means. ASH is in the latter category; they attempt to limit tobacco consumption by holding tobacco companies liable for the deaths they have caused and by promoting the enforcement of tobacco control legislation in the United States and around the world.

Towards the end of my first day, I was given a list of all the things that I was going to be working on throughout the summer.  The list looked daunting at first, but I was excited about the opportunity to do so many interesting things. The great part about interning at ASH is that, unlike other internships, I was not limited to one monotonous task, because ASH included me in tasks for several of their programs. Each aspect of my internship provided new challenges, and each challenge allowed me to learn something new.


swiss pic

Fact I found to help promote an ASH Case Study

Throughout the summer, I researched a variety of topics, including state tobacco control facts, the progress of standardized packaging around the world, and information that led to the development of a divestment toolkit for college students. While sitting at a desk for eight hours a day reading articles and looking up facts could have been tiresome, I found it fascinating to discover the seriousness of the tobacco epidemic first-hand.  By taking the time to read through the reports that first stated these facts, like the 1964 Surgeon General’s report, I was able to understand how dire the tobacco epidemic is around the world.

Each fact and each article made me want to find out more about the global tobacco problem, and the further I got into my research, the more interested and motivated I became. The research that I completed helped me better understand the global tobacco epidemic, which in turn motivated me to work harder and more diligently on the tasks given to me.

Read on to Part 2>

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