Using Human Rights Arguments in Litigation

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Some advocates have begun using human rights arguments in litigation against the tobacco industry.

Below are several cases relevant to human rights, but this list is far from exhaustive of all tobacco litigation. For a much more in depth look at tobacco litigation worldwide, please visit the excellent resource put together by Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids. For a list of additional issues that provide legal or political precedent that can be applied to tobacco and human rights, please visit the parallel issues page.

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The Impact of Litigation on Tobacco Control
  • The impact of the WHO FCTC in defending legal challenges to tobacco control measures

    Since the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s (FCTC) entry into force, the tobacco industry has initiated litigation challenging tobacco control measures implemented by governments around the world or supported others to initiate such litigation on its behalf. In defending their tobacco control measures against such litigation, governments have invoked their obligations and rights under the WHO FCTC. This article assesses the extent to which the WHO FCTC has provided legal weight to governments’ defenses against legal challenge.

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Smoke-Free Air Litigation
  • A matter of life or death: Woman with lung disease wins complaint over neighbour's smoking

    Canadian woman with lung disease wins human rights complaint over condo neighbour’s smoking

    In British Columbia (BC), a woman with lung disease was exposed to drifting smoke from a neighbouring condominium unit.  Her complaints were not remedied.  On March 5, 2019, the BC Human Rights Tribunal ruled that this violated the BC Human Rights Code for discrimination on the basis of disability.  The tribunal ordered that the strata cease the contravention and pay $7,500.

    The decision in Bowker v Strat Plan NWS 2539 is available here

    A news article can be seen here

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U.S. Local, State, and Federal Action on Menthol
  • The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)

    The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is an international treaty, which the United States has ratified, that includes requirements to ensure that all people have the right to public health. CERD is U.S. law. The tobacco industry intentionally targets Black Americans with menthol flavoring in tobacco products: violating the requirements under CERD. To learn more about how advocates can use this legal connection between tobacco, public health, and human rights at the federal, state, and local level of government, please visit ASH’s pages on Using International Tools to Fight Menthol and International Human Rights Treaty Bodies.

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