Stop Global Promotion of Tobacco

Death Cigarettes Offer Truth in Advertising, by Bill Branson

Target: Jodi Hanson Bond, Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Goal: Stop international lobbying for tobacco companies that helps Big Tobacco export its deadly products across the world.

The world is now experiencing a rebound in profits to large tobacco companies directly due to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s hard work to lobby globally against anti-smoking efforts. This is in spite of efforts by the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids to pass the landmark Tobacco Master Settlement of 1998, which caused a steep decline in domestic profits of cigarette companies.

According to the Center for Disease Control, cigarette smoking causes one of every five deaths in the United States each year. Tobacco is responsible for over 480,000 deaths ever year, including those from secondhand smoke. Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than for nonsmokers, and over 40,000 nonsmoker deaths occur annually due to secondhand smoke causing lung cancer and heart disease.

Many people have become aware of these horrifying statistics and struggle to abstain from smoking as well as educating friends and family to do the same. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is undoubtedly aware of these terrible consequences, yet it continues to lobby on the side of Big Tobacco to poison the entire world in the name of economic profit.

According to reports released by anti-smoking coalitions, tobacco companies have joined Chamber of Commerce affiliates in 56 countries, most of which are countries where smoking is still a rampant among uninformed communities, including Albania, Armenia, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Kosovo, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Poland, Serbia, the Slovak Republic, and Taiwan.

In January 2014, the U.S. Chamber wrote Minister Luc Adophe Tiao a letter stating that putting warning labels on cigarette packages violated international property rights and trade agreements, and the threat of litigation stopped the new law in its tracks. In 2012, the U.S. Chamber fought the effort to raise taxes on cigarettes in the Philippines, claiming that it would create a black market. In the United Kingdom, it released a joint statement with tobacco companies opposing a bill that would create standardized packaging for tobacco products, stating that the bill sends a negative message to the United Kingdom’s trading partners. Thankfully, the bill still passed.

The United States has so many products to offer the world, yet the U.S. Chamber of Commerce puts a substantial amount of its efforts into protecting and exporting a completely preventable health crisis to the developing world. Please join me in demanding that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ends its global efforts on behalf of the tobacco industry and ask them to cease lobbying toward a worldwide dramatic increase of preventable death and disability caused by smoking tobacco.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Jodi Hanson Bond,

Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death and is a prime factor in heart disease, stroke and chronic lung disease. It’s directly linked to cancer of the lungs, larynx, esophagus, mouth, and bladder, and contributes to cancer of the cervix, pancreas, and kidneys.

Since the landmark Tobacco Master Settlement of 1998 caused a strong decline in domestic cigarette profits, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has supported a large effort in advocating for big tobacco companies overseas. Your victory has been absolutely lethal, supporting the death of over four million people addicted to the poisonous chemicals in cigarettes. The people are demanding that you halt all advocacy efforts on behalf of tobacco companies across the world as we have plenty of safe and innovative products to export.

You must be aware of the statistics on this preventable health crisis, as smoking in the United States falls dramatically every year while tobacco consumption is rising by 3.4 percent per year in currently developing countries. These statistics are directly correlative with your lobbying efforts on behalf of tobacco companies, and we beg you to cease and desist before the epidemic gets any worse. Lives are more important than profits, and we will not allow our country to be a harbinger of death in the name of Big Tobacco.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Bill Branson

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