Richmond, VA – (AP, 1/11/14) The nation’s tobacco companies and the federal government have reached an agreement on publishing corrective statements that say the companies lied about the dangers of smoking and requires them to disclose smoking’s health effects, including the death on the average of 1,200 people a day.
WASHINGTON, DC – (8/8/12) Action on Smoking & Health (ASH) calls on President Obama to immediately submit the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to the Senate for ratification. The United States signed the FCTC in 2004, but 8 years and 2 administrations later it still languishes in the White House. Meanwhile, the instrument has been adopted by 175 countries—representing 87% of global population—making it one of the most rapidly-embraced treaties in history.
I have spent a career burying people killed by the deliberate policies of my Country; the suffering of the dying, the faces of the dead, haunt my dreams. Armed with cash, Madison Avenue, paid-for-politicians and big lies, the tobacco agriculture-manufacturer-government complex has slaughtered millions; thousands have died at my feet. Therefore, the “victory” finally forged; by finding cigarette pushers guilty of lying should bring comfort. Instead, I feel humiliation.
In the United States and other western Countries, smoking rates and the diseases that follow, are dropping. Less than 20% of Americans now smoke. Thus, the massive industry represented by Philip Morris USA (Altria Group, Inc), RJ Reynolds and Lorillard, finds shrinking domestic markets for their addictive lethal product. Even their own employees, no longer smoke. Using industrial acumen, money and political influence, these resilient industries are adapting. They are infesting the world.
There are now more people smoking in China than live in the United States. Smoking rates in the Far East have quintupled. World tobacco companies are producing nearly 1000 cigarettes per person per year and rising. However, it is not in these industrialized nations where the greatest fortunes will be made. No, the future, the real opportunity to addict, sell and kill, is the poorest continent; Africa. There, today, almost no one smokes. However, that is about to change.
Thus, BIG TOBACCO, represented by not only US firms, but also London-based British American Tobacco, Switzerland-based Philip Morris International and the U.Ks Imperial Tobacco, is sweeping onto the African continent. In the 1940s through cigarette giveaways, the tobacco industry addicted western nations and reaped big profits and death. Now, in Africa, they are selling to the poorest children, one cigarette at a time (7 cents), and populations are becoming hooked. In Nigeria more children under 13 smoke, than adult males. Flaunting laws, health evidence and any semblance of morality, nicotine drug dealers are sowing the continent to harvest utopian dollars. Doctors will harvest of blood and death.
The World Health Organization predicts logarithmic increases in lung disease, heart disease and cancer. African nations are attempting to build modern economies to join the world community. However, instead of celebrating modern growth, they will have to deal with the horrendous financial loss of sickness and an infinite potential for suffering. In the smoke-free communities of the western world, they will be celebrating profits and going to health clubs.
In 2003, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Treaty was signed. One of the most rapidly ratified treaties in United Nation’s history, it is core to the world battle against tobacco. The treaty includes rules to govern advertizing, production, quality, sale, distribution, public awareness, smuggling, research and limits the interactions of lobbyists and lawmakers. This treaty has worldwide support and is legally binding in 177 countries. It is the basis for international cooperation and communication to stop the infestation.
Nevertheless, joining Cuba, El Salvador, Liechtenstein and Somalia, the FCTC has not been ratified by the United States.
President George W. Bush refused to present the FCTC to Congress, objecting to a mandatory ban on free cigarette samples, the definition of the term “minor,” and citing concerns that broad limitations on tobacco advertizing, promotion and sponsorship might restrict free speech. However, even though these rules have been changed in the FCTC, and/or are already the law in the United States, President Barack Obama, despite his support of the FCTC when he was Senator, has kept the Treaty locked up in White House drawers.
There is only one possible explanation. Big Tobacco, in the United States and Europe, is salivating at the money which will pour from the African, since it can no longer kill for profit its own people. The bizarre historical cycle, the USA having built its tobacco industry on slaves ripped from the African continent, now returns to profit from the death of their ancestors, is a Kafkaesque nightmare.
What would any county do, when it realizes that another nation was planning to kill its people by the millions? Responsible governments have an obligation to protect their populations. Thus, 177 nations in the world, including 48 treaty signers in Africa, will declare economic and societal war with the United States. They must conclude that not only does the USA not care about the health of the people of Africa, we plan to feast on their decay. As this conflict between nations grows, we stand on the side of the devil. The worldview of our nation, seen as we invade, is that of a devouring beast.
One of the strangest paradoxes of the 20th Century is the story of the last World War and tobacco. Then, the enemy was clear and evil and the people of the earth rose to defeat Nazi power. However, in a bizarre turn of history, this was also a victory for Big Tobacco. Fascist Germany had in place the most effective anti-smoking policies in history, and its actions in research, education and taxation, lead to marked drop in smoking and related disease. When the world, to great extent lead by the USA, defeated Germany, all that anti-smoking work was lost and labeled with the stamp of the swastika. Our valiant soldiers returned home victorious. However, they returned home smoking.
Now the USA stands on the other side of history. By refusing to work with the world community by not signing, supporting and enforcing the FCTC, by instead spreading the tobacco disease, we threaten the people of earth. Developing countries see that we have cynically reduced tobacco use in our own communities, but are preparing sales armies to bring death to Africa. The threat is clear. With what stamp will we be labeled? We have met the enemy and the enemy is us.