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15 Organizations Report to the UN Human Rights Council that the U.S. Fails to Protect the Right to Health

Media Contact:
Megan Arendt
(202) 390 – 9513

DIHR statement on PMI

UPR submission
Read the UPR Submission Here

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 3, 2019 – Today, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), in partnership with 14 civil society organizations, submitted a report to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council under its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process regarding the United States’ tobacco control efforts within a human rights framework.

Read our joint report to the UPR here.

Tobacco is often viewed as a problem that has been solved, particularly in the United States. However, tobacco kills more than 480,000 Americans a year. About one out of every five deaths in the United States is due to tobacco.

“Smoking negatively impacts the right to life, right to health, right to education, children’s rights, women’s rights, and many others. It’s time for governments to step in and protect their citizens from the tobacco industry and the global epidemic they’ve created,” said Laurent Huber, Executive Director of ASH.

Our report provides key facts and statistics to substantiate that tobacco is a human rights issue and should be considered as part of the government’s human rights obligations. Tobacco, and the actions of the tobacco industry, prevents citizens of the United States from enjoying the highest attainable standard of health and disproportionately impacts people of certain races and economic and social conditions.

Previously, the United States led in tobacco control and human rights but now lags behind many other countries. Our report includes 8 key recommendations to help the US become a global leader once again.

This report is part of a larger initiative ASH has been spearheading to integrate tobacco control into international human rights mechanisms. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the world. A human rights approach to ending tobacco 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.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) gives countries the chance to share what actions they have taken to improve human rights in their countries and to fulfil the human rights obligations they have pledged to uphold. UPRs are due on a cyclical basis, with 48 States reviewed each year. Under the UPR process, civil society organizations are also invited to submit reports to the Human Rights Council working group. The working group then refers information back to the Human Rights Council where recommendations are finalized and sent to countries to delineate what work is needed to improve their human rights record. Learn more about the UN UPR process here.

In addition to our UPR report, ASH made similar statements on the floor of the Human Rights Council to continue highlighting tobacco as a human rights problem on September 16, 2019 and July 1, 2019, with supporting countries like Palau doing the same.

Tobacco production, marketing and sale are human rights violations, and the United States must take action to improve tobacco control in this country and in turn protect the rights of all Americans.

If the federal government is unwilling to act, cities and states have it in their power to start strengthening their own tobacco regulations and protect the rights of their citizens. ASH has also developed an implementation guide for states, cities, and localities interested in using global tobacco control best practices in their communities.



Founded in 1967, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is America’s oldest anti-tobacco organization, dedicated to a world with ZERO tobacco deaths. Because tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, ASH supports bold solutions proportionate to the magnitude of the problem. https://ash.org