On June 30, 2015, The New York Times released a tiered investigation to expose the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) affiliates as a front group for Big Tobacco.
The New York Times reported that the US Chamber and its affiliates, “use their access to high-level decision makers and indeterminate funds to influence, intimidate, and pressure policymakers trying to develop and implement public health policies designed to reduce tobacco use.”
Dr. Vera da Costa e Silva, the head of the Secretariat that oversees the W.H.O tobacco treaty, said, “there is a misconception that the American chamber of commerce represents the government of the U.S.”
The Times continued, “In some places like Estonia, the lines are blurred. The United States ambassador there, Jeffrey Levine, serves as honorary president of the chamber’s local affiliate; the affiliate quoted Philip Morris in a publication outlining its priorities.”
- July 2nd: seven Democratic Senators also issued a joint statement calling the U.S. Chamber’s actions “craven and unconscionable,” noting that “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is, in effect, renting its letterhead and name to big tobacco.”
- July 3rd and 4th respectively: The New York Times and Washington Post editorial boards came out in support of health, calling on the U.S. Chamber to stop lobbying for tobacco abroad.
- July 7th: CVS Health quit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a result of the Chamber’s lobbying campaign against anti-smoking laws.
- July 9th: United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), sent letters to the CEOs of all 108 member companies of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors asking about their positions on the efforts of the U.S. Chamber and its international affiliates to fight against international anti-smoking laws, regulations, and policies.
Today, July 16th, international public health groups respond with a new report: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Blowing Smoke for Big Tobacco.
This report further describes how the U.S. Chamber and its AmCham affiliates have joined the tobacco industry in fighting effective tobacco control policies in multiple countries – often without fully disclosing that they are working with the tobacco industry – implying that the full force of the U.S. business community is behind these efforts and that economic harm could result if countries move forward.
The report includes five recent case studies from Uruguay, Burkina Faso, Moldova, the European Union and the Philippines and lists other known attempts by the U.S. Chamber to oppose a range of tobacco control policies including graphic health warnings, tobacco advertising restrictions and increased tobacco taxes.
It is time for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to stop fighting public health measures. If you agree, sign this petition>