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Global Forum on Human Rights and a Tobacco-Free World


ASH and our colleagues at Romania 2035 Tobacco-Free Generation Initiative, and the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention, along with the Romanian Presidency, hosted the first Global Forum on Human Rights and a Tobacco-Free World in the Cotroceni Palace in Bucharest. This unique and historic event held on March 26 brought together global leaders in human rights and public health to discuss ways to advance worldwide efforts to combat the tobacco epidemic.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis opened the event by stating that “Tobacco control is critical to protect the right to health.” That sentiment was echoed throughout the day, including by EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Dr. Vytenis Andriukaitis, who stated that “The FCTC is grounded in the right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health,” and went on to say that  “It’s easy to sign an agreement, but we need implementation on the ground…” HRH Princess Dina Mired of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and President of the Union for International Cancer Control, highlighted that “It is now imperative to relocate tobacco control to the front of the narrative on human rights to protect our children.”

In the afternoon, ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber moderated a panel on “What needs to be done?” The speakers were a prestigious group including Vytenis Andriukaitis, HRH Princess Dina Mired, Stephen Marks, François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of Health and Human Rights, Harvard University, Dr. Vera Luiza Da Costa e Silva, Head of the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Douglas Webb, Team Leader in the HIV, Health and Development Practice, United Nations Development Programme and Cary Adams, Chief Executive Officer, Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).

Early in the discussion, Dr. Vera Luiza Da Costa e Silva pointed out that “The tobacco industry continues to be for profit. Their aims are irreconcilable with public health and human rights.”  Laurent Huber, Executive Director of ASH, concluded by encouraging the audience. “Human rights can keep us united. Combustible cigarettes are the #1 killer. Let’s get them off the market. The tobacco epidemic is a human rights challenge that Europe and the world should be able to overcome in the 21st century.”

The Forum immediately preceded the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention Annual Conference, which also took place in Bucharest. In large part due to ASH’s efforts, much of the conference centered around the idea of tobacco as a human rights issue, including the plenary address by Professor Stephen Marks and the closing address by Professor Harry Lando. In addition, ASH held a workshop to train European advocates on how to use human rights-based arguments and approaches to further their tobacco control work.

In anticipation of these events, ASH shared its primer on Tobacco and Human Rights and launched the ASH hub on Tobacco and Human Rights, both of which received high praise from the communities gathered at these events.



Background Documents

  • ASH’s Tobacco and Human Rights Primer This document is intended as broad overview of tobacco and human rights, but contains many relevant references and information. This is a great starting point for advocates new to this area.

Information on the Event

  • 2019 Global Forum on Human Rights and a Tobacco-Free World, co-hosted by the Romanian Presidency, Romania 2035 Tobacco-Free Generation Initiative, and the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention with high level speakers such as the European Commissioner on Health and Food Safety and Princess Dina Mired of Jordan.
  • Agenda