December 10 is international Human Rights Day, in observation of the day that the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This landmark document set out, for the first time, the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being. It’s also the world’s most translated document, available in more than 500 languages. This year marks a special occasion- it’s the 70th anniversary of the UDHR!
You may be wondering what that has to do with tobacco? The UDHR enshrined the right to life, and was a precursor to many other human rights based international agreements which came afterwards, including the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also celebrated it’s 70th anniversary this year, and dedicated it’s anniversary, World Health Day, to one of WHO’s founding principles: “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”
These two rights; the right to life and the right to health; are the back bone of ASH’s work on human rights.
At ASH, we use a human rights-based approach to tobacco control, which is unique because it implores or requires governments to protect their citizens by implementing tobacco control laws and strategies to end the tobacco epidemic based on legally-binding human rights norms. We work to include tobacco in the agenda of several human rights treaty bodies, to publicize the connection between tobacco and human rights, and to encourage local organizations to take actions within human rights mechanisms in their own countries. Our goal is to change the mindset of both the tobacco control and human rights communities so that they (and the rest of the world) view tobacco as the human rights issue that it is.
We believe that a human rights-based approach can help ASH end the tobacco epidemic for good and we are proud to celebrate another year of working to protect the rights to life and health from Big Tobacco. Happy Human Rights Day!