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.
– 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>.
– 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.
– 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.