National Index Shines a Light on Tobacco Industry Interference in Lawmaking New Report Released by Action on Smoking & Health (ASH) Exposes What Tobacco Industry Wants Ignored Media Contact: Megan Arendt, ASH (202) 390 – 9513 WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 8, 2020 – Philip Morris Tobacco Company’s internal goals for the 21st century included, “…We will never be liked and what we want is to be ignored.” While most ignore tobacco companies to our collective peril, they spend millions lobbying behind the scenes to undermine public health policy at every level. Today, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) pulls away the curtain in its U.S. Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2020. Read the U.S. Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2020 here> Watch interviews of experts on the harms of tobacco industry interference here> View the report snapshot infographic here> Thousands of internal tobacco industry documents – made public by court order – describe how and why tobacco companies have meddled with the process of enacting effective tobacco control laws since opening their doors. The U.S. Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2020 shows that U.S. tobacco companies continue to work behind the scenes to kill, weaken, or delay legislation proven essential to reducing tobacco use. Involving tobacco companies in the regulation of their own products not only undermines public health but violates global standards for tobacco regulation laid out in the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Article 5.3. Tobacco companies must be actively excluded from all policymaking because the goals of tobacco companies are diametrically opposed to those of public health. They seek to increase profits by addicting new customers. Public health seeks to end the tragic death and disease caused by the normal use of their products. “During a global respiratory pandemic, lung health and public health have never been more important. We are collectively making many sacrifices to combat the coronavirus, which thankfully has no advocates. The tobacco pandemic is different. Tobacco companies are actively advocating for their products which are still the leading cause of preventable death, adding half a million deaths in the U.S. to the nearly 300 thousand coronavirus deaths,” said Laurent Huber, Executive Director of ASH. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and early death in the U.S. The most effective strategy for reducing tobacco use is through public health policy. The greatest barrier to enacting effective public policy is tobacco industry interference. ASH’s Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2020 scores each element of interference and shares detailed examples of state and local interference that are representative of the whole. “National polls reflect clear disdain for tobacco industry interference and strong support for enacting effective laws,” said Doug Matheny of the TSET Health Promotion Research Center. “Further, the public wants lawmakers to amend or replace any current laws that were written or influenced by tobacco company lobbyists.” Many areas of public health are exacerbated by elements beyond human control. However, the extent that the tobacco industry is allowed to interfere in the lawmaking process is directly determined by lawmakers. Lawmakers across the U.S. should actively reject tobacco industry misinformation, donations, and other forms of influence. Advocates should seek to expose the activities of tobacco industry lobbyists and front groups. As a society, we must prioritize our collective health over the profit of a few, and that begins by excluding the tobacco industry from policy making. This report was compiled by ASH and Doug Matheny, Programs Manager for State and Local Policy at the TSET Health Promotion Research Center. It provides a detailed review of tobacco industry interference in lawmaking, using data collected from state and local partners to report U.S. scores on 20 standard indicators developed for the Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index, which scores and ranks the extent of tobacco industry interference in 57 countries and is produced by the Global Centre for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC) and STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products) Partners. Read the Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2020 here> ACTION ON SMOKING AND HEALTH Founded in 1967, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is America’s oldest anti-tobacco organization, dedicated to a world with ZERO tobacco deaths. Because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, ASH supports bold solutions proportionate to the magnitude of the problem. https://ash.org Why We Must Act! Get Involved The ASH Webinar Series returns this Thursday, December 10th at 12:00pm ET / 5:00pm GMT to discus this report. Registration is now open. The webinar builds on the release of ASH’s U.S. Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2020. Two of the key report authors will present ways to monitor the tobacco industry in your jurisdiction and why it’s crucial to #ExcludeTobacco from all public health policy making. Professor Kathleen Hoke, Director of the Legal Resource Center for Public Health Policy and Director of the Network for Public Health Law-Eastern Region at the University of MD Carey School of Law, will share a local perspective on tobacco industry interference at the state level.