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Why I Fight: News/Talk Radio Host & Author Forrest Carr

My Great Cigarette Rebellion

How my mother’s simple request to run an errand changed my life.

My doctor doesn’t believe I’ve never smoked.

In January I was diagnosed with a relatively rare form of kidney cancer—Transitional Cell Carcinoma, which had begun in the kidney and then descended into the bladder. Thankfully, it had only just arrived in the latter when we caught it, otherwise I’d be of considerably less use to myself right now.   But the left kidney had to come out.

Right after delivering the news, my doctor—who is world renowned in his field—asked whether I smoked.  I assured him I didn’t.  Then he wanted to know when I’d quit.  I told him the stone cold truth: I’ve never puffed a cigarette in my life.  An eyebrow went up.  He didn’t quite say, “Uh, huh.”  But I could tell he wanted to.  He went on to explain that the disease I had was considered a smoker’s cancer. Kidney cancers are not particularly unusual, he told me, but my particular type is.

The next time I was in the office, we repeated the Q&A drill about my smoking.  It occurred to me that perhaps he’d forgotten my earlier answers, but I had a hard time believing that.  Smoking is an important part of any patient’s past history, and doctors take careful notes on that kind of thing.  It seemed much more likely that he just flat didn’t believe me.  I stuck to my story, and explained that both of my parents had smoked.  He seemed to accept the answer.

He hadn’t.  A little while later he found the opportunity to sneak out into the lobby and ask my wife how long it had been since I’d quit smoking.  When I found out that he’d checked up on me in this fashion, I tried not to be hurt about having my honesty questioned.  I can only assume that some of his other patients must lie like dogs about this kind of thing, perhaps not wanting to be told to quit.

To say I was around second hand smoke when I was a kid is like saying the average fish occasionally spends some time in a wet environment.  My mother spent every waking moment with a Kent III snugged between the middle and index fingers of her right hand.  A smoldering coffin nail could be found between my father’s yellowed fingers at every moment, period, waking or otherwise.  By the time I was 4 or 5, the hardwood floor by his side of the bed was covered with about a hundred black burn marks from cigarettes he’d dropped after drifting off to sleep.  Mom finally made him stop smoking in bed after he set fire to his second mattress.

I have several paperback books that used to sit on my bookshelf in my boyhood room.  The spines for all of them are yellow with nicotine.  Obviously, books don’t breathe.  If such discoloration can happen to books just from sitting there soaking in the ambience, can you imagine what my lungs must look like?  I lived with my parents for about 20 years.

As someone who’s always been interested in the news, by my teen years I was very aware of the dangers of tobacco.  I’d long since given up trying to shame my mother into quitting.  Her stated excuse was that when she’d started smoking as a teen (she never told me when, but I’m guessing she’d been smoking since about the age of 15), the dangers of tobacco weren’t known.   The actual fact is that she just didn’t want to quit.  And forget about Dad.  There was no arguing with him on any subject at any time about nuthin’ (a trait he passed on to me).

When I was 16, my parents bought me a very used Toyota Corolla so that I could drive to school.  It was only natural that they’d ask me to go run errands for them from time to time, which I did without complaint.  Until one day Mom asked me to go down to the neighborhood Git ‘n’ Go to pick up a carton of Kent III’s.

I said no.

Both parents knew how I felt about cigarettes.  Plus, what they were asking me to do was illegal, and the fact that a store manager friend of theirs was willing to slip me a carton under the counter to take home to them didn’t change that.  So when I balked, I really thought they’d quickly back down and withdraw the request.  But my father had commanded a platoon of tanks in World War II, and was not one to retreat in the face of any challenge, especially one to his authority.  Voices were raised.  Fingers were jabbed.  Threats were issued.  Dad told me that if I didn’t hop in the car and go get those cigarettes right that very moment, he would take my car keys away from me.  I assumed he was bluffing, since this would have entailed one of the two of them having to drive me to school.  But he wasn’t any less hotheaded than I was.  When I refused to give in, he demanded the keys from me.  I handed them over.

For the entire rest of the day and the first part of the following morning, Dad left me wondering what was going to happen next.  Just before the time I’d normally leave for school, he walked up to me and returned the keys without a word.  Nothing more was ever said about it.  And neither of them ever asked me to go on a cigarette run again.

It didn’t even occur to me until much later that I’d gotten off pretty easily.  At the time, I was attending an expensive private high school, driving a car that my parents had given me as a gift, and using their credit card to pay for the gas.  They could have taken any of that from me in a flash.  I’ve lived long enough and seen enough by now to know that plenty of other parents would have done just that, and would have proceeded to smack any little teen rebellion like mine down hard.  But I got away with it. 

Still, the incident helped kindle in me a life-long distrust of authority, and a willingness to stand up to it. At the age of 16, my parents were the main authority figures in my life, and I’d never challenged them before or defied a parental order in any way, shape, form or fashion.  In fact, I was a very respectful kid. But I knew cigarettes were wrong, and that any authority commanding me to participate in the purchase of them therefore must also be wrong.  Later it occurred to me that the government had to be wrong, too, for allowing cigarettes to happen (a view I have since softened).  This newfound distrust of power would guide my life in the world of journalism, sometimes to my detriment.  My Cigarette Alamo would not be the first time I’d stand up to authority, but little did I know at the time that I wouldn’t always get away with such things.  (And those are stories for another day).

Two years later, my grandfather began a long, slow, and final decline from emphysema (these days most often referred to as COPD).  Papa smoked until the day he died.  In fact, his last exhalation on planet Earth was filled with cigarette smoke.  My mother was holding the cigarette for him.  I had hoped that watching her father waste away before her eyes from the effects of a lifetime of smoking would finally convince her to give it up.  Nope.

About 20 years later, her brother, my beloved uncle who was also a lifetime smoker, suffered a major breathing crisis.  His doctor told him that he’d be dead soon if he didn’t quit.  He did, giving it up cold turkey.  What they don’t tell you is that when you quit at that stage, you don’t get better.  Instead, you get worse more slowly.  His sharply declining health finally killed him a few years later.

In his final year, my father had three different kinds of cancers competing to put him in the ground. Brain cancer won.

Still Mom did not quit.  She kept smoking those Kent III’s until she faced the same breathing crisis her brother had.  Only then did she stop—a feat, as he had done, that she accomplished cold turkey.  But she faced the same fate as her brother, and within a few short years COPD had killed her, too.  And like her father, she spent her final year wearing an oxygen tube.

If America’s Prohibition era of the last century, along with our current disastrous war on drugs, have demonstrated anything, it’s that you can’t separate people from their vices.  Ultimately, it’s always up to the individual to make a choice, or make a stand, as the case may be.

When I see kids hanging out in front of their high schools or the local convenience store smoking, I just want to scream at ‘em.  I hear that kids puff away because they think it’s cool to have a cigarette dangling from their lips, and stylish to be able to pose and gesture with one held between the fingers. One would hope for a bit more social consciousness.  At a time when some of our youth are crusading for government and business to think less about profits and more about the environment and other issues affecting the public good, these kids are forking over their money to greedy, lying, cynical, rat bastard corporations who sell them poisons and then feel good about it.  There is a word for this kind of consumer.  It’s called, “chump.”

If you smoke, I respect your right to make that choice.  What I don’t respect is the choice you made.  Still, if you think that whatever pleasure you’re deriving from the act is worth it, and you don’t mind dying in suffocating agony a bit further down the road, then go ahead, knock yourself out.  Certain corporate executives, tobacco farmers, and undertakers will thank you for it.

Smokers love to invoke their rights.  Of course, later some of them will be citing their right to have me help pay for their cancer, cardiac or stroke care.  Fine.  That’s the way the system works.  However, to steal a phrase, your right to swing your cigarette ends where my nose begins.  In particular, exposing kids to second hand smoke ought to be considered a form of child abuse.  No, I’m not seriously suggesting that children of smokers should be removed from the home.  But is it something a judge should consider in custody disputes?  Absolutely.

As for me, I’m not angry with my parents.  They raised me well and did a lot of good things to set me on the right path.  I thank and honor them for that.  I’m also grateful they helped inspire me to join a profession where I could challenge authority and speak truth to power for a living.  It’s a thankless job. But somebody—well, you get my drift.

And I’m not just blowing smoke.


I just had my second surgery for bladder cancer.  I’m publicly sharing what normally is a very personal detail so that others in this situation will know this happens to a lot of people, and it isn’t necessarily the end of the world.  This surgery had far fewer complications and residual pain than the first one.   It now seems likely that I’ll be getting this done every few months from now on.   Believe me, when it comes to tobacco-related cancers, there are far worse fates.

REPRINTED with permission from Forrest Carr who is a news/talk radio host and author. He writes “The Bashful Bloviator” bloghttp://thebashfulbloviator.blogspot.com/2014/09/my-great-cigarette-rebellion.html

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Statement from the Chairman of the ASH Board of Trustees

Al headshot

Dr. Alfred Munzer, MD

50 years ago the 1st Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health clearly established the terrible toll taken by tobacco on the health of smokers and set the United States on a public health campaign to rid the nation of the threat posed by the use of tobacco to the smoker and to those involuntarily exposed to second-hand smoke.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has been a part of that campaign from the outset.  But while the campaign has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the prevalence of tobacco use, far too many young people are still enticed into a life of addiction to tobacco and far too many Americans continue to suffer and die as a result of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke. 

In view of the global reach of the tobacco industry, ASH has played a key role for the past 15 years to extend the campaign to stem the epidemic of tobacco related disease beyond the United States to countries around the world through the development of the 1st treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Although the FCTC has been signed, but not ratified by the United States, it provides a useful pathway to states and localities to update their tobacco control efforts and to advance the public health campaign that was started 50 years ago.

As a physician who witnesses the pain and suffering caused by tobacco use day in and day out, I welcome the release of ASH’s report The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: An Implementation Guide for U.S. State and Local Officials.

I hope public health officials at all levels of government will measure their tobacco control efforts against the standards set by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. I also urge members of state legislatures to strongly consider motions expressing support for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and prod the federal government to ratify the convention.

Dr. Alfred Munzer, MD


Board of Trustees

Action on Smoking and Health

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A Winnable Battle

The CDC identifies reducing tobacco as a “Winnable Battle” because tobacco is a public health priority with “large-scale impact on health and with known, effective strategies to address them.”

For ASH, the ability to significantly improve the protection of U.S. citizens from tobacco-related damage, disease, and death is the driver behind our work in public health. Eradicating the tobacco epidemic should be a major national priority because tobacco use is still the #1 preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing about 480,000 Americans each year. Tobacco use is responsible for over 20% of all American deaths.

But, as Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” That principle is what ASH stands by and that principle is what ASH hopes to inspire others to believe in when reading our latest report: The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: An Implementation Guide for U.S. State and Local Officials.

To combat the tobacco epidemic, countries around the world negotiated and implemented, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The FCTC, the world’s 1st international health treaty, is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health and includes measures that encourage nations to take an all-encompassing approach to effective tobacco policy.

The United States, unfortunately, is not a party to the FCTC, but the FCTC and its guidelines still provide excellent tobacco control strategies that can be implemented in American states, counties, cities, and towns.

Here at ASH, we are firm believers in the concept “change begins at home.” That is why we created this FCTC Implementation Guide for U.S. State and Local Officials. The guide illustrates how effective FCTC policies and useful strategies from other countries can be implemented by state and local officials in their home jurisdictions. The guide also provides model legislation and legal resources to assist local lawmakers in creating tobacco control policies.

Implementation of FCTC measures at the state and local levels would provide many more Americans with the much needed protection from the damage, disease, and death attributed to tobacco products and their use.

While ASH strongly advocates for U.S. ratification and implementation of the FCTC, national ratification is not a prerequisite for local action. This guide is intended to help U.S. state and local officials take steps toward making their communities increasingly free from tobacco.

For more information and resources please read the ASH WHO FCTC U.S. State and Local Implementation Guide and visit our database.

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Cigarettes, Unbranded

The products are virtually indistinguishable from one another, yet they retain more loyalty than Mac computers. And an expensive international legal battle is raging over them. Why? Because the products—cigarettes—are a recognized public health hazard, and governments around the world are trying to do whatever it takes to stop their citizens from lighting up.

“Whenever a country goes beyond the WHO tobacco control recommendations, tobacco companies sue,” says Chris Bostic, policy director for the nonprofit group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). “They do this not so much for a legal win, but to send a legal chill.”

Today, 18 per cent of US adults smoke, as some states levy high cigarette taxes and adopt aggressive laws against second-hand smoke. This shift is less evident in the South – home to Johnson – and the Midwest, so that in Kentucky, for example, the adult smoking rate is 30 per cent. And though the MSA bans advertising aimed at “youth”, Bostic says Big Tobacco targets the “young” market.

Read Full Article>

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South Korea seeks near-doubling of cigarette price

South Korea’s government has proposed nearly doubling the price of cigarettes to lower the country’s smoking rate.

Under its plan, the average price per pack would go up to 4,500 won (£2.70, $4.35) by the start of next year. It is currently 2,500 won.

But the proposal may undergo changes in parliament as it is facing significant opposition, reports Yonhap news agency.

The government is hoping to cut the smoking rate among men, which is among the highest in the developed world.

About 41% of South Korean men smoke, according to 2012 figures from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development - higher than the 26% OECD average.

South Korea’s overall smoking rate, at 23%, is also higher than the OECD average of 21%.

Read more>

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‘Ban E-cigarette use indoors,’ says WHO

The World Health Organization says there should be a ban on the use of e-cigarettes indoors and that sales to children should stop.

In a report the health body says there must be no more claims that the devices can help smokers quit – until there is firm evidence to support this.

WHO experts warn the products might pose a threat to adolescents and the foetuses of pregnant women.

Read more>

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FDA ‘Deeming’ Update

More organizations have revealed thecomments that they submitted to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on whether certain tobacco products should fall under the agency’s authority.

Aug. 8 was the deadline for interested parties to submitpublic comments to the FDA on the proposed tobacco “deeming” regulations–“Deeming Tobacco Products to Be Subject to the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act; Regulations on the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Required Warning Statements for Tobacco Products” ( FDA-2014-N-0189).

Full Article>

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Big Tobacco Tries to Don A New Look: Are You Buying?

Big Tobacco wants to reclaim the hearts and wallets of most adult Americans by rebranding its tarred image — pitching “smokeless” e-cigarettes, embracing the mantra “harm reduction,” and funding science that could turn tobacco plants into life-saving medicine.

That tactical shift, not surprisingly, has cultivated cynics like anti-tobacco crusader Patrick Reynolds, grandson of R.J. Reynolds, who calls the moves mere “window-dressing PR campaigns.”

Full Article>

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In New Calculus on Smoking, It’s Health Gained vs. Pleasure Lost

WASHINGTON — Rarely has the concept of happiness caused so much consternation in public health circles.

Buried deep in the federal government’s voluminous new tobacco regulations is a little-known cost-benefit calculation that public health experts see as potentially poisonous: the happiness quotient.

Read More>

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Fmr US Surgeon General Dr. Jesse Steinfeld dies at 87

Three U.S. surgeons general have played the biggest roles in alerting the public to the dangers of tobacco.

In 1964, Dr. Luther Terry issued the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, irrefutably linking smoking with lung disease and other illnesses. The report led to a sharp drop in smoking and to the first warning labels on cigarette packages.

Seven years later, Dr. Jesse L. Steinfeld issued a second report focused on the dangers of secondhand smoke. He proposed what he called the Non-Smoker’s Bill of Rights, which said that the country must free non-smokers from the hazards and annoyance of other people’s addictions. He strengthened the warning on packages and issued the first ban on smoking in certain government buildings.

Read more>

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E-cigarettes may not be the savior of the tobacco industry

E-cigarettes have been heralded as a potential savior for a tobacco industry desperate for new products and customers in the face of a shrinking number of smokers and punitive damages such as the $23.6 billion awarded by a Florida jury last week.

But it turns out that regular smokers prefer the real thing.

“There is consumer dissatisfaction with the product, which leads to high levels of rejection” said Vivian Azer, tobacco and beverages analyst at Cowen & Co. in New York. “Consumers are willing to try the product, but they are not satisfied.”

Read more>

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Tobacco Costs the World More than GDP of All Low Income Countries

“Tobacco use alone costs the world 1-2% of its GDP each year,” Helen Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Program told the United Nations on July 11th.July.helen

The world’s GDP in 2013 was nearly $75 trillion.  One percent of the world’s GDP makes the global cost of tobacco higher than the total GDP of all low income countries, which is about $575 billion. Member states echoed the concern for the negative impacts of tobacco by renewing their commitment to accelerate implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (see the UN’s NCD Review Outcome Document from July 9 -11, 2014).

Administrator Clark’s comment came during the UN’s review and assessment of the current state of prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Many UN member states in attendance emphasized the importance of the FCTC, tobacco control, and tobacco taxation in their statements.* In addition, they called for resources for the prevention and control of NCDs globally and at country level.

We were pleased to see that the final document included a key commitment for countries to set up national NCD targets, including the reduction of tobacco prevalence by 30%. These targets should be put in place at the national level by 2015. As stated in ASH’s Avoidable Death Report, tobacco taxes are an effective and proven way to significantly reduce tobacco use and can help reach such targets.

Now, civil society must hold governments accountable to their commitments regarding the allocation of resources for national policies and action plans on NCDs. Although there were a significant number of government ministers in attendance at this UN Review, the majority were health ministers.

We must get all ministers and high level officials to prioritize tobacco control, NCDs, and the FCTC in national development plans. These issues are not just health issues – they are development issues, as highlighted in ASH’s Brief on tobacco and sustainable development.

At this time, the tobacco control community must come together in full force to ensure that the next set of development goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – include tobacco control. The negotiations will be ongoing in the coming months.

We encourage the tobacco control community to spread this message of prioritizing tobacco control to governments and UN missions in New York.

Please contact us if you need any assistance or would like any more information.


* Including Costa Rica, USA, Mexico, Jamaica, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, CARICOM, Colombia, Australia and Spain.

**GDP Source: http://databank.worldbank.org/data/download/GDP.pdf

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Massive punitive damages against tobacco company in wrongful death suit.

MIAMI — A jury in northwestern Florida awarded a staggering $23 billion judgment late Friday against the country’s second-largest tobacco company for causing the death of a chain smoker who died of lung cancer at the age of 36.

The company, the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, promised a prompt appeal.

Michael Johnson Sr. died in 1996 after smoking for more than 20 years. In 2006, his widow, Cynthia Robinson, of Pensacola, sued R. J. Reynolds the maker of the Kool brand cigarettes her husband had smoked, arguing that the company had deliberately concealed the health hazards its product caused.

The four-week trial ended Wednesday. The jury deliberated for 18 hours over two days, first awarding $17 million in compensatory damages and then emerging at 10 p.m. Friday with a $23.6 billion punitive judgment.

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Health Preemption Behind Closed Doors: Trade Agreements and Fast-Track Authority

Eric CrosbieMAMariaelena GonzalezPhD, and Stanton A. GlantzPhD


Noncommunicable diseases result from consuming unhealthy products, including tobacco, which are promoted by transnational corporations. The tobacco industry uses preemption to block or reverse tobacco control policies. Preemption removes authority from jurisdictions where tobacco companies’ influence is weak and transfers it to jurisdictions where they have an advantage.

International trade agreements relocate decisions about tobacco control policy to venues where there is little opportunity for public scrutiny, participation, and debate. Tobacco companies are using these agreements to preempt domestic authority over tobacco policy. Other transnational corporations that profit by promoting unhealthy foods could do the same.

“Fast-track authority,” in which Congress cedes ongoing oversight authority to the President, further distances the public from the debate. With international agreements binding governments to prioritize trade over health, transparency and public oversight of the trade negotiation process is necessary to safeguard public health interests. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print July 17, 2014: e1–e7. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302014)

Read More: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2014.302014

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Why Uruguay’s David and Goliath fight with big tobacco really matters

LIMA, Peru — A protracted legal battle in an obscure World Bank tribunal over the principles of market competition in a South American backwater. Even by trade dispute standards, this one sounds arcane — the perfect cure for insomnia perhaps.

But before you nod off, here’s a triple shot of espresso:

Uruguay’s fight with Philip Morris, the world’s largest cigarette manufacturer, just might mark a turning point in the global smoking pandemic that the World Health Organization (WHO) expects to cost up to 1 billion lives this century.

Four out of five of those deaths will happen in developing nations, acting like a ball and chain on those countries’ attempts to grow economically and lift hundreds of millions out of desperate poverty.

Philip Morris, whose brands include Marlboro, is objecting to a 2009 Uruguayan law that requires cigarette packs to be 80 percent covered by health warnings, including graphic photos of cancer victims.

Read More>

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New York Victory: Court Upholds Law to Prohibit Tobacco Discounts

In 2013, New York City passed a law (Local Law 1021-A-2013) that sets a minimum price for cigarettes sold in the city. The law also prohibits the use of coupons or promotional discounts to lower that price. Tobacco companies challenged the law on the grounds that it violated their First Amendment right to free speech. Recently, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York returned its decision and upheld New York’s law. photo 2

Increasing the price of tobacco products is the single most effective way to prevent initiation among nonsmokers and to reduce consumption.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has concluded that a 50% increase in price lowers consumption by 20%. Raising tobacco taxes is particularly effective in reducing youth smoking, as youth often have less disposable income and shorter smoking histories than adults. In high-income countries, a 10% increase in tobacco prices will reduce consumption by about 4%. Read more about price measures here>

In an attempt to offset the rising cost and keep tobacco products cheap and more appealing to young people, tobacco corporations often offer discounts. According to the CDC, tobacco corporations spent $7.76 billion on price discounts and promotional allowances in 2011, just in the U.S. That amounted to 92.7% of all cigarette marketing expenditures. Read more about promotions and marketing here>

New York City’s law is intended to prevent tobacco corporations from circumventing price increases by offering discounts. Tobacco corporations argued that it limits their right to free speech by restricting the dissemination of price information. The Court held that the law is aimed at regulating the price of tobacco products, which serves the city’s legitimate goal of reducing tobacco use. The law does not limit the corporation’s speech about tobacco products, and therefore does not violate the First Amendment. Read the decision here>

This is an important victory for New York and for public health. States, counties and cities can now take steps to prevent tobacco corporations from undermining price increases. Coupon and promotional bans have the potential to be important tools in the fight against tobacco.

Read more about what state and local governments can do to combat the tobacco epidemic and see examples of model legislation in our upcoming Implementation Guide and database. Check back soon!

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

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Action Review: 2nd Quarter Edition 2014

What Makes Tobacco Different?Certification

In recognition of the World Health Organization’s World No Tobacco Day on May 31, 2014, Action on Smoking and Health certified 193 Senators and Representatives “Free from Tobacco Money.” This certification was given to all U.S. Senators and Representatives who have not accepted campaign money from the tobacco industry over the past ten years.

Click here to read what makes tobacco money different>

Click here to read the Press Release>

Click here to see all Recipients>

Program Updates

New Report

Many Americans believe that the war on tobacco has been won, but the fact is the number of smokers is climbing globally. ASH, in partnership with Legacy, released a new report to examine US tobacco control efforts in the 50 years since the release of the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking & Health – viewed through a global lense. Read on>



Guest Editorial by Director Laurent Huber discussing why goals to reduce tobacco use must be included in the new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) currently being negotiated at the United Nations to replace the expiring Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).Read on>


Video Campaign

Young adults make up the largest group of smokers in the US, and they are rarely affected by advertisements about death and lung cancer. So, we worked with some colleagues to reach them in a different way. View the video>

ASH Blog

Tobacco Control News

6 States to lose out on $500 million from tobacco settlement?


US Chamber of Commerce: Facing the Wrong Way

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

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

It is with all of you in mind that we work tirelessly to stop the tobacco industry and to create a tobacco-free world. Our efforts to educate, advocate, and support treaty negotiations result in tobacco control measures being included in laws at the state and national levels, in international trade agreements, and in global health and economic development goals.

Please help us strengthen our fight by making a donation today.

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



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Smoking Greater Health Threat Than HIV for LGBT Community

Quick—what’s the biggest health risk for gay men? No, it’s not AIDS. And no, it’s not being clubbed by a horde of knuckle-dragging, tobacco-juice-chin-dribbling, conservative troglodytes. Good guess, but the correct answer is smoking.

The latest Center for Disease Control (CDC) statistics show that 20.5 percent of heterosexuals and 30.8 percent of LGBT community use some form of tobacco product. The statistics from the American Lung Association show a similar disparity.

Read more>

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Dementia Linked to Tobacco

Today, the World Health Organization and Alzheimer’s Disease International released the statement below, in conjunction with this Fact Sheet linking tobacco as a risk factor for dementia. New evidence reveals that smokers have a 45% higher risk of developing dementia than non-smokers. Tobacco & Dementia

“This newly-identified link between smoking and dementia provides yet another good reason to quit smoking at any age,” said Laurent Huber, Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health. “Tobacco kills half of its long term consumers, but this report suggests that even if you are lucky enough to not die prematurely from one of the many diseases caused by tobacco, you might be afflicted by dementia. If we want to increase people’s chances of living long and healthy lives, we need to do everything we can to encourage smokers to quit now.”

This Fact Sheet provides further confirmation that we must implement sound public health measures such as increasing tobacco taxes, banning smoking in public places, banning the advertising of tobacco products, and applying other life saving measures included in the first global public health treaty, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

For an interview with Laurent Huber or Marc Wortmann, Executive Director of Alzheimer Disease International, please contact Megan Arendt (arendtm@ash.org).



Geneva, 9 July 2014: Smokers have a 45% higher risk of developing dementia than non-smokers, according to information published today by the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI).

Evidence reviewed by WHO reveals a strong link between smoking and the risk of dementia, and the more a person smokes, the higher the risk. It is estimated that 14% of Alzheimer’s disease cases worldwide are potentially attributable to smoking.

WHO warns that exposure to second-hand smoke (passive smoking) may also increase the risk of dementia.

“Since there is currently no cure for dementia, public health interventions need to focus on prevention by changing modifiable risk factors like smoking,” says Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department for Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO. “This research shows that a decrease in smoking now is likely to result in a substantial decrease in the burden of dementia in the years to come.”

Tobacco use is already recognized as the one risk factor common to four main groups of non-communicable diseases (NCDs): cancers, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease and diabetes.

“Tobacco is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing nearly six million people a year,” says Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of the Department for Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO. “WHO urges governments to actively implement and enforce the measures of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, especially smoke-free environment laws and access to tobacco cessation services”.

Laurent Huber, Director of the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) for Tobacco Control, comments: “It is no surprise to see these findings confirm that tobacco smoking is a major risk factor for dementia. This adds yet another item to the long list of the devastating consequences of tobacco and gives even more reason for personal and public health action to help people to quit smoking.”

“The research also shows that quitting smoking later in life might be beneficial so encouraging and supporting current tobacco users to quit should be a priority,” says Serge Gauthier, chair of the ADI’s Medical Scientific Advisory Committee.

Dementia affects more than 44 million people worldwide, with almost two thirds of them living in low- and middle-income countries.

“Every year, there are 7.7 million new cases of dementia. In 2010, the global cost was calculated at US$ 604 billion, which represents 1% of global GDP (gross domestic product),” says Marc Wortmann, ADI Executive Director. “No government can ignore the opportunity to link this new information into its planning and health system activities to reduce smoking and control NCDs.”

ADI believes that this information brief can form the basis for countries to add messages about brain health and dementia risk into public health anti-smoking programs and interventions.

For more information visit: http://www.who.int/tobacco/publications/en/

– End –

About Alzheimer’s Disease International

ADI is the international federation of 84 Alzheimer associations throughout the world.  Each of our members is a non-profit Alzheimer association supporting people with dementia and their families.  ADI was founded in 1984 and registered as a non-profit organisation in the USA.  Based in London, ADI has been in official relations with the WHO since 1996 and has had consultative status with the UN since 2012.

ADI’s vision is an improved quality of life for people with dementia and their families throughout the world. ADI believes that the key to winning the fight against dementia lies in a unique combination of global solutions and local knowledge. As such, it works locally, by empowering Alzheimer associations to promote and offer care and support for people with dementia and their family carers, while working globally to focus attention on dementia and campaign for policy change from governments.

For more information, visit www.alz.co.uk

About the World Health Organization

WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.

For more information, visit www.who.int 

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Tobacco regulations improve the health of pregnant women & babies

Between 2005 and 2012, Uruguay instituted a set of strong tobacco control policies. By 2012, the government had banned nearly all advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products, prohibited smoking in all indoor enclosed public places and workplaces, mandated rotating graphic warning labels covering 80 percent of the front and back of packs, allowed only one cigarette pack presentation per brand, and required healthcare providers to treat nicotine dependence.  In addition, the government moderately raised tobacco taxes.  These measures resulted in substantial declines in nationwide smoking rates.

Click here for the new study released by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research on Uruguay’s national tobacco control policies that led to a substantial increase in the likelihood that a pregnant smoker would quit by her third trimester and improved the health of newborns>

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New Jersey Senate passes bill to raise age to buy tobacco products to 21

TRENTON, New Jersey — New Jersey might become the first state in the nation to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products and electronic cigarettes to 21.

The state Senate on Monday passed a bill that would raise the minimum age. The measure awaits action in the Assembly.

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Tobacco giant initiates EU court challenge

Tobacco giant Philip Morris International (PMI) wants to challenge new EU rules on tobacco to see if it can get the stricter labelling requirements changed.

The Marlboro manufacturer on Friday (27 June) said the EU’s new tobacco products directive “appears to ban truthful and non-misleading claims on the packaging of tobacco products”.

“PMI intends to seek review of whether this ban respects the fundamental rights of consumers to information about the products they are choosing,” it added.

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New Study Reveals No Drop in Use of Smokeless Tobacco for U.S. Workers

According to a recent study by the US. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. workers are continuing, and slightly increasing, their use of smokeless tobacco products. Smokeless tobacco (snuff and chew tobacco) are known to cause oral, esophageal and pancreatic cancer. The study did not include other smokeless tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes and candy-flavored dissolvable tobacco, therefore the usage numbers may actually be underestimated.

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One in Five US Adults Use Tobacco Products

Adult smoking rates have dropped from 42% in 1965 to 21.3% today, but the rate of decrease is slowing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) latest issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR),released online June 24. The report also found use of cigars and smokeless tobacco products remains unchanged.

Meanwhile, use of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, is rising rapidly. The number of adults who smoked traditional cigarettes and said they had tried e-cigarettes doubled from 10% in 2010 to 21% in 2011, the CDC reports. The number of high school students who reported ever using an e-cigarette also rose from 4.7% in 2011 to 10% in 2012.

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World Health Organisation says Pacific considering cigarette plain packaging

The World Health Organisation says a number of countries across the Pacific are considering following in Australia’s footsteps and introducing plain packaging of cigarettes.

The WHO is set to join governments across the region in a major drive to make the Pacific tobacco free within 10 years.

The WHO Pacific coordinator of non-communicable diseases, Dr Temo Waqanivalu, says the project will be launched in Honiara in two weeks and plain packaging is among the tactics being considered.

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