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After planting an apple tree, it will be years before you get an actual apple. But it is very satisfying when you do, and that first apple will taste all the sweeter because you planted it.

ASH and our supporters planted a seed over five years ago when we launched Project Sunset, an effort to change the conversation on the tobacco epidemic from focusing on controlling the death and disease from tobacco to ending it. At the time, there was one example in the world – Bhutan – of a place that had banned tobacco sales (a ban that was rescinded in 2020 due to COVID-19), and many if not most of our colleagues in tobacco control did not think it possible.

Today, Project Sunset, or its more generic term tobacco endgame, is part of nearly every conversation about tobacco policy worldwide. ASH has been invited to speak or provide technical assistance on tobacco endgame by dozens of organizations and governments, in California, Nevada, Minnesota, Colorado, New York, Illinois, Maryland, New Zealand, India, Spain, France, and the European Union (to name just a few). ASH sits on tobacco endgame government advisory councils in California, India and the European Union, and is part of endgame advocacy coalitions in many other places.

ASH is the recognized global leader on tobacco endgame policies; we could not be prouder, and we owe it all to our stalwart supporters who believed in us when we said we could change the world.

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Project Sunset was born directly from ASH’s human rights program, which continues to grow and is also bearing fruit worldwide. ASH was an early adopter of a human rights-based approach to the tobacco epidemic, but after years of effort it too has become a normal part of tobacco policy conversations and tobacco has become a normal part of human rights conversations. When ASH attended the first round of negotiations for a UN Treaty to End Plastic Pollution in November 2022, one of the most helpful and supportive statements came from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, a difficult entity for government delegations to ignore.

ASH saw steadily increasing momentum and success in 2022, and we look optimistically to 2023 and beyond. There is much to do, and we are facing one of the most powerful and wealthy industries in the world. But we have human rights, justice, a vision, the facts and wonderful supporters and colleagues on our side.

Victory is a certainty; it’s a question of when, not if.

Tobacco still kills someone every four seconds. Let’s get back to work.