ASH’s work is based on the principle that the actions of the tobacco industry – producing, marketing, and selling addictive products that kill when use as intended – violates human rights, such as the right to health, that have been recognized at the highest level through international, regional, and national legal instruments.
(1) Phasing out the commercial sale of combustible tobacco products (aka Project Sunset, Tobacco Endgame),
(2) Using the law to hold the tobacco industry accountable (ex: joint lawsuit against the FDA for the delayed menthol ban),
(3) Using a human rights approach to advance tobacco control, and
(4) Promoting and strengthening global best practices to reduce tobacco use, through the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
Combined, these programs chip away at the tobacco industry from every angle to accelerate the end of the tobacco epidemic. Below, we celebrate our successes in each program in 2023.
Project Sunset: Phasing out the sale of commercial combustible tobacco products
ASH provided technical assistance on endgame planning, policy development, and communications strategies to 34 jurisdictions.
- ASH developed 8 technical assistance training resources for partners to amplify their support of the tobacco endgame.
- ASH supported our European partners in promoting their European Union Citizens Petition in support of the endgame policy on building a tobacco-free generation.
- ASH has been conducting research on the needs of lower and middle-income countries to engage in endgame work.
- ASH submitted comments to an HHS Request for Information: Draft HHS 2023 Framework to Support and Accelerate Smoking Cessation, connecting cessation and endgame.
- ASH serves as a statewide media and communications technical assistance provider in California.
- As a technical assistance provider for the state of California, ASH prepared social media content and supported media advocacy for 6 jurisdictions, while running our own social media campaigns on endgame and the environmental impact of tobacco.
- Tobacco Endgame Matters podcast published 5 new episodes to educate and unite local communities in the fight for tobacco endgame progress.
- ASH launched and hosted a very well-received 9 week Tobacco Endgame Policy and Advocacy Training Course for 686 individuals from 69 countries and 42 US states plus D.C. Registration is ongoing and the live discussion sessions will reopen in Spring 2024.
- ASH coordinated a global response to the New Zealand government’s threat to rescind its tobacco endgame law, passed in December 2022. An open letter with 139 organizational sign-ons connected to a full-page ad in the leading New Zealand newspaper was organized in less than 72 hours.
Using the law to hold the tobacco industry accountable for the harm they cause
- ASH has supported the Global Alliance for Tobacco Control’s work and preparations for Article 19 advocacy at COP10.
- ASH and our plaintiff partners continue to monitor the FDA as the menthol rule progresses. We’re extremely concerned about the current delay from the White House and continuing to offer education and advocacy support to streamline implementation of the rule sooner than later.
- ASH continues to monitor other opportunities for strategic litigation. A lawsuit in the Netherlands is utilizing human rights arguments as a case against “rigged filters.” This is an exciting development that could be instructive for other cases in the future.
Using global norms to move local communities toward a zero tobacco-use prevalence
In exciting news, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued its draft for a new General Recommendation on Race and the Right to Health. Due in large part to ASH’s advocacy, tobacco is included in the draft! ASH then organized a campaign to publicize this victory as well as to encourage advocates to stay engaged as the process moves forward, to ensure that tobacco is included in the final draft. 208 organizations from 61 countries joined the sign on campaign, demonstrating human rights as a priority in our field.
- ASH staff serve as advisors for partner organizations where delegated, such as the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education Advisory Committee, the DC Tobacco-Free Coalition, and the Global Alliance for Tobacco Control’s (GATC) COP advisory board. ASH leads the GATC COP10 task force on Human Rights, participates in Article 19 (liability) work, and coordinates efforts around Article 2.1 (Sunset). Nichelle Gray was chosen to take part in the Quantum Leap Leadership Development Program hosted by the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council.
- ASH staff was asked to participate in interviews by the Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva on tobacco industry interference and the WHO FCTC Secretariat regarding their ongoing Stakeholder Perception Study.
- ASH submitted 8 comments to United Nations bodies, providing recommendations on the intersection of human rights, the environment, and tobacco control best practices. One example was our joint report with Comité National contre le Tabagisme (CNCT) and Alliance Contre le Tabac (ACT) which was joined by 50 additional signatories calling on the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to make recommendations that France take greater steps to protect the right to health of women and girls from the harms of tobacco.
- ASH co-convened the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance (STPA), a global coalition of 100 public health organizations who recognize the crucial intersection of tobacco control and environmental health, at two global treaty negotiations and during year-round country advocacy to support INC-2 and INC-3.
- ASH wrote 3 advocacy reports on implementing best practices in tobacco control, for example the 2023 U.S. Tobacco Industry Interference Index.
- ASH staff presented at 21 local, national, and global events, for example the UN Human Rights Council, an ASTHO webinar, the Truth Initiative Impact Series, the European Conference on Tobacco or Health, and a webinar for the Public Health Law Center, on amplifying human rights and equity while strengthening tobacco endgame policies.
- Launched updated data for all 50 states and DC on the U.S. Tobacco Industry Lobbyist and Lobbying Firm Registration Tracker, which received considerable positive feedback from our partners who were seeking a resource like this tracker to help them avoid working with clever tobacco lobbyists.
- ASH remains active with the DC Tobacco-Free Coalition, particularly on encouraging robust enforcement of DC’s Flavored Tobacco Law and educating the community through the DC Calls It Quits Week Summit.
- ASH will be very active at COP10 in early February 2024 and is co-hosting or speaking at several side events. Review our COP10 priorities and events here.
ASH in the News
Key media articles quoting ASH or mentioning our work
- Yahoo! News: Tracker shows where tobacco lobbyists are registered
- CNN: FDA says it will finalize ban on menthol tobacco products ‘in coming months’
- Axios: FDA blasted over inaction on menthol ban
- NPR: New Zealand’s new government plans to roll back cigarette ban as it funds tax cuts
- The Portugal News: Calls for approval of tobacco control laws without exceptions
- FOX5 DC: Anti-smoking signs hit stores after years-long legal battle
- Richmond Times-Dispatch: With fewer smokers, Va. growers, cigarette makers seek new markets
- The National Press Club: Communicators show how short-form video engages audiences with bite-sized content
- UPI: Most Americans support stopping sale of tobacco products, CDC finds
14 Press Releases and Statements
- Carolyn Dresler, 2022 C. Everett Koop Unsung Hero Award Recipient, Joins Action on Smoking and Health Board of Trustees
- CDC Reports: More Than Half of All Americans Support Ending the Sale of Tobacco Products
- Plastic Pollution INC Stakeholders Meeting | ASH Statement
- Tobacco Harms Health and the Environment: Urgent Action Needed at the UN
- Health and Environmental Advocates to INC-2 in France: Ban Cigarette Filters
- INC-2 Statement from Action on Smoking and Health, the African Tobacco Control Alliance, Corporate Accountability and other members of the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance
- New Data Compilation Shows Scope of Tobacco Industry Lobbying in the U.S.
- 208 Organizations Unite to Call on UN Committee to Recommend Stronger Tobacco Control Policies
- Joint Statement: The FDA Continues to Delay Protecting Americans from Mentholated Cigarettes
- Statement from Laurent Huber, Executive Director of ASH, Supporting British Prime Minister’s Smoke-Free Generation Proposal
- New Report Outlines Increase in Tobacco Companies Interfering in U.S. Public Health Policymaking
- Tobacco Products Violate the Human Rights of Women and Girls in France
- New Zealand Plans to Gut Public Health Policies on Tobacco Sales
- The White House Must Support Health Equity by Approving the FDA’s Proposed Rule on Menthol
- Governments are getting serious about cancer. They’re starting with tobacco.
- Tobacco Impedes Social Justice
- International Women’s Day 2023 | Tobacco’s Impact on Women
- 33 Countries Support Human Rights Based Approach to UN Plastic Pollution Treaty
- Fighting for your Right to Health | CERD Day 2023
- European Policymakers Support Cigarette Filter Ban: A Welcome Trend
- The FDA’s Delay: One Year and Counting
- 20th Anniversary of the Adoption of the WHO FCTC
- International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
- The Invisible Struggle: Unveiling the Unique Challenges Faced by Women
- Congressional Briefing by the Truth Initiative on the “Black Lives/Black Lungs” Film Series
- World Lung Cancer Day: Unraveling the Deadly Link Between Cigarettes and Lung Cancer
- The New York Times Should Not Promote a Cigarette Brand, in 2023
- The Astounding Impact of UN Treaties on Public Health
- ASH Priorities at COP10
- 5 Daily Blogs for INC-2, starting here
- 6 Daily Blogs for INC-3, starting here
- 22 Years Fighting for You
- Joint Op-Ed: 139 Organizations Call on New Zealand to Prioritize Human Life Over Tobacco Industry Profit
- Guest Blog: A Doctor and Tobacco Industry Whistleblower’s Take on Tobacco Endgame
- Guest Blog: From Smoking as a Minor to Supporting my Community in their Quit Journeys
- Guest Blog: How US Healthcare Professionals Can Strengthen Tobacco Cessation Interventions
- Guest Blog: Commercial Tobacco in the Native American Context
- 2022 Annual Report
- More Harm Than Good: Why cigarette filters should be eliminated from the commercial cigarette market
- Could international human rights obligations motivate countries to implement tobacco cessation support?
- 2023 U.S. Tobacco Industry Interference Index
- ASH continued our successful Webinar Series, hosting 31 webinars with prominent co-hosts, such as US FDA, WHO FCTC Article 17/18 Knowledge Hub, the Global Alliance for Tobacco Control, DC Health, NYU, UNC Chapel Hill, the Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance, UpEnd Tobacco. Having trained 5,305 advocates in 2023, ASH continues to receive positive feedback on and strong attendance at our substantiative training webinars.