FCTC Comments

Comments For the World Health Organization (WHO)
International Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

An international treaty on tobacco control is under consideration. The United States (U.S.) government had testimony and received comments on what its position should be, posted at its website.

This opportunity to have an international impact, and say what, ideally, should be done about tobacco, requires contacting pertinent officials, in support of meaningful tobacco control, negotiating a treaty that will end the scourge of tobacco and cause criminal prosecution of all those having caused, aided and abetted the holocaust-level casualties that have occurred.

Here was the email address (FCTC@cdc.gov), and the mailing address, followed by sample paragraphs (use as many or few as you wish, or develop own words), with links to details on highlighted words, and then additional narrative and links:
Suggested Comments to Send

FCTC Comments (Attn: Ms. Monica Swann)
Office on Smoking and Health
200 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 317-B
Washington, DC 20201
                                                                           Re: The WHO Framework
                                                                           Convention on Tobacco Control
Dear OSH:

           The United States has a special responsibility to help end the tobacco epidemic, as it is a leading exporter. "Exporting tobacco addiction from the USA," 351 Lancet 597 (1998); 352 Lancet 152 (1998); and John Britton, "Tobacco: The Epidemic We Could All Avoid," 52 Thorax 1021-1022 (1997).

The tobacco hazard has long been known. By 1836, i.e., 164 years ago, it was well-established "that thousands and tens of thousands die of diseases of the lungs generally brought on by tobacco smoking. . . . How is it possible to be otherwise? Tobacco is a poison. A man will die of an infusion of tobacco as of a shot through the head." Samuel Green, New England Almanack and Farmer's Friend (1836).

"The physician must recognize the fact that smoking is a universal affair . . . harmful . . . to normal people. . . . [changing them into the injured category]." Schwartz, Herbert F., M.D., "Smoking and Tuberculosis," 45 New York State Journal of Medicine (#14) 1539-1542 (15 July 1945). The Royal College of Physicians of London, Smoking and Health Now (London: Pitman Medical and Scientific Publishing Co, 1971), p 9, soon declared the smoking-caused death toll a " holocaust" due to the then "annual death toll of some 27,500." The death toll has worsened since then.

Now, for example, "Over 37 million people (one of every six Americans alive today) will die from cigarette smoking years before they otherwise would." See the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), book, Research on Smoking Behavior, Research Monograph 17, Publication ADM 78-581, p v (December 1977).

Alcoholics are disproportionately smokers. "Smoking prevalence among active alcoholics approaches 90%." See Hayes, et al., Alcoholism and Nicotine Dependence Treatment, 15 Journal of Addictive Diseases 135 (1996). There is also a correlation with drug abuse. Cigarettes are the delivery agent for nicotine, the starter drug on which children are typically first hooked (average age 12). Alcohol follows, average age 12.6; then marijuana, average age 14. Drug dependence develops in stages, requiring intervention at the earliest stage—cigarettes. See DHEW NIDA Research Monograph 17, supra, p vi; DuPont, Teen Drug Use, 102 Journal of Pediatrics 1003-1007 (June 1983); and Fleming, et al., Cigarettes' Role in The Initiation And Progression Of Early Substance Use, 14 Addictive Behaviors 261-272 (1989).

Tobacco depresses the immune system, causes abulia, and leads to post-gateway-drug drug abuse, so is a triple risk factor for AIDS. See Newell, et al., AIDS Risk Factors, 14 Preventive Medicine 81-91 (1985); Schechter, et al., Vancouver AIDS Study, 133 Canadian Medical Association Journal 286-292 (1985); Halsey, et al., AIDS & Smoking in Haitian Women, 267 Journal of the American Medical Association 2062-2066 (1992); and Watstein, The AIDS Dictionary (NY: Facts on File, Inc., 1998), p 253.

Cigarettes' toxic chemicals cause severe suffering. Due to cigarettes' deleteriousness, they are the No. 1 cause of premature death, thus of the preceding severe suffering. As a "natural and probable consequence," there is a 9-1 smoker-nonsmoker suicide ratio, the same ratio as lung cancer. See Cowell and Hirst, "Mortality Differences Between Smokers and Nonsmokers," 32 Transactions of the Society of Actuaries 185-261 (1980), Table 9, p 200. This occurs as "smokers have excesses of suicide: risks; thoughts; attempts; and deaths . . . Suicide [is] strongly . . . associated with smoking . . . independent of age, gender, exercise, cholesterol, race, low local income, diabetes, MI [myocardial infarction], etc. [variables]. Ex-smokers had lower suicide rates than current smokers. The pooled dose-response statistic [is] highly significant. . . . Suicide is prospectively, independently, consistently, strongly, and highly significantly dose-response associated with smoking." See Leistikow, et al., Analysis of Association Between Smoking and Suicide, 15 J of Addictive Diseases 141 (1996).

As per its drug role, smokers commit crime disproportionately. "Nowhere is the practice of smoking more imbedded than in the nation's prisons and jails, where the proportion of smokers to non-smokers is many times higher than that of society in general." Doughty v Board, 731 F Supp 423, 424 (D Col, 1989). "Nationwide, the [ratio] of smokers [to non-smokers] in prisons is 90 percent." McKinney v Anderson, 924 F2d 1500, 1507 n 21 (CA 9, 1991), affirmed and remanded, 509 US 25; 113 S Ct 2475; 125 L Ed 2d 22 (1993).

Please include the words of the Iowa cigarette ban of 1897: "Section 5006 of the Code forbids . . . the manufacture, sale, exchange, or disposition of cigarettes or cigarette paper." Hodge v Muscatine County, 121 Iowa 482, 483; 96 NW 968; 67 LRA 624; 104 Am St Rep 304 (22 Oct 1903) aff'd 196 US 276; 25 S Ct 237; 49 L Ed 477 (16 Jan 1905).

Alternatively, include the words of the 1897 Tennessee law banning cigarette selling, as upheld in Austin v Tennessee, 179 US 343; 21 S Ct 132; 45 L Ed 224 (1900), as the cigarette hazard was already then known. The Tennessee law made it unlawful: "for any person, firm, or corporation to sell, offer to sell, or to bring into the state for the purpose of selling, giving away, or otherwise disposing of, any cigarettes, cigarette paper, or substitute for the same" (Acts of 1897, ch 30).

In affirming a conviction under the Tennessee law, the Tennessee Supreme Court said, ". . . cigarettes . . . are . . . wholly noxious and deleterious to health. Their use is always harmful, never beneficial. They . . . are inherently bad, and bad only . . . widely condemned as pernicious altogether . . . impairment of physical health and mental vigor. . . ." Austin v State, 101 Tenn 563, 566-567; 48 SW 305, 306; 70 Am St Rep 703 (1898). These words alone, without more, provide clear basis for a cigarette sales ban. So please include them in the Convention.

Alternatively, the words of Michigan law MCL § 750.27, MSA § 28.216 ("Any person within the state who manufactures, sells or gives to any one, any cigarette containing any ingredient deleterious to health or foreign to tobacco, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor") should be adopted. As that law dates from the 1909-1931 period, and more cigarette-hazards data exists now than then, the proposal should define such acts as a felony, not a mere misdemeanor, pursuant to extant case law, e.g., People v Carmichael, 5 Mich 10; 71 Am Dec 769 (1858); People v Stevenson, 416 Mich 383; 331 NW2d 143,145-146 (1982); and People v Kevorkian, 447 Mich 436, 494-496; 527 NW2d 714, 738-739 (1994), making providing a toxic substance causing foreseeable death, a felony, regardless of the delayed reaction of the body to the toxin.

Let's make the planet smoke-free. The FCTC should (a) adopt the words of the Iowa law, the Michigan law or of Tennessee's 1897 law and (b) urge all jurisdictions to do likewise in their individual laws. The mere mention of doing this will call attention of all readers the fact that aspects of the cigarette hazard have been known across three centuries.

Cigarette-caused fires can result in criminal charges when death results, e.g., Commonwealth v Hughes, 468 Pa 502; 364 A2d 306 (1976). Please explicitly reference and incorporate the already existing common law concept that "No one has a right to have his property burn, if thereby the property of others is endangered. The right to extinguish fires . . . is a part of the police power. . . . It may be exercised not only without the consent of the owner of the property on fire, but against his will." Wamsutta Mills v Old Colony Steamboat Co, 137 Mass 471, 473; 50 Am Rep 325, 326-327 (5 Sep 1884). The use of fire is of course, of the essence in smoking. (Unlit cigarettes are not what the problem is about!)

Lastly, as cigarettes are harmful when used as manufacturers intend, the WHO proposal should explicitly recognize that once cigarettes are recognized as banned as above stated, the issue of smoking would be moot. But nonetheless, the proposal should explicitly incorporate by reference the already existing common law "Right to Fresh and Pure Air" that has been developed since at least the year 1306 and has a long record of judicial recognition, dating from Rex v White and Ward, 1 Burr 333 (KB, 1757) and Rex v Neil, 2 Carr & Payne 485 (Eng, 1826) ("It is not necessary that a public nuisance should be injurious to health; if there be smells offensive to the senses, that is enough, as the neighborhood has a right to fresh and pure air") through to the present, State v Heidenhain, 42 La Ann 483; 7 So 621; 21 Am St Rep 388 (1890), and Shimp v New Jersey Bell Telephone Co, 145 N J Super 516, 531; 368 A2d 408, 416 (1976) (enforcing the right to be "able to breathe the air in its clear and natural state").

Conclusion: In view of the holocaust level of tobacco-caused deaths, cigarette manufacture and sales should be recognized as banned by already existing law, and criminal prosecutions ensue.


Your Signature

Alternative Version

This is in support of the FCTC being made as strong as already existing laws and precedents provide.

The FCTC should mandate full compliance with the already existing right to pure air, as established by court precedents since the 1730's, details at http://medicolegal.tripod.com/pureaircases.htm.

It should ban tobacco manufacturing, sales, and giveaway, as per the Iowa law of 1897, details at http://medicolegal.tripod.com/iowalaw1897.htm.

It should take into account the FULL range of tobacco effects, not merely the narrow range of mere "health" effects, details at http://medicolegal.tripod.com/effects.htm.

It should forbid employers to hire smokers, as per already exisitng precedents to that effect, details at http://medicolegal.tripod.com/donthire.htm.

It should mandate smokers' right to compensation for already existing harm, by taking the funds from tobacco companies, as per over a century of precedents, details at http://medicolegal.tripod.com/dangeroustobacco.htm.

It should mandate enforcement of already existing criminal law, as per over a century of litigation, to prosecute tobacco pushers for deaths they have already caused, details at http://medicolegal.tripod.com/tobaccomurder.htm.

Lastly, the FCTC should also mandate, in nations that do not enforce their already-exisitng criminal laws against tobacco pushers, the prosecution of such accomplice government officials, the extradition of same, pursuant to already existing extradition laws, details at http://medicolegal.tripod.com/extradite.htm.

The FCTC should not weaken, but should follow or strengthen already existing laws and precedents.

Your Signature

You may want to elaborate, add, subtract, or otherwise tailor your comments, with data from additional sources. You are encouraged to invite others to file comments as well.

WHO is emphasizing only a few tobacco effects (heart and lung conditions, for example), but tobacco has a role in much more, as the medical journal references and data links there shows. So it would be helpful for you to emphasize subjects that WHO is overlooking.

Additional Background Information
The "Framework Convention on Tobacco Control" website is http://www.who.int/toh/fctc/fctcintro.htm.

The announcement by the U.S. government on this issue, in the Federal Register, on (a) a public hearing and (b) opportunity for email and mail comments (which this site covers) is at: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=2000_register&docid=00-4388-filed.

An international advocacy group, Action on Smoking & Health (UK), is at this website, http://www.ash.org.uk/international.html

WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

The World Health Organization (WHO) has initiated negotiations on a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in an effort to promote a coordinated international response to tobacco, the most deadly epidemic of all time. A Framework Convention is a type of multilateral treaty, which allows governments to proceed incrementally by establishing first a general framework followed by specific protocols.

Tobacco is truly a global problem. WHO estimates that each year about 4 million people die from tobacco-related illness. If current trends continue, this figure will rise to about 10 million per year by the year 2030, with 70% of those deaths occurring in developing countries.

WHO understates the problem. WHO ignores many tobacco-related aspects. It says merely that more people are expected to die from tobacco-related illness over the next 30 years than from AIDS, tuberculosis, automobile accidents, maternal mortality, homicide and suicide combined. As you can tell from its material, WHO ignores the tobacco role in AIDS, homicide, and suicide. That is why our input is important, to cite these matters.

Just as infectious diseases know no political boundaries, leaving individual countries incapable of effectively containing them, the tobacco epidemic also requires international cooperation if it is to be controlled. The challenges that transcend the borders of nations include:

* Advances in communications technology which facilitate aggressive global marketing and promotion of tobacco products, such as over the Internet and or on satellite television.

* Cigarette smuggling across national borders.

* The increased liberalization of trade and investment, which has provided tobacco, companies the opportunity to expand their operations.

In May 1999, the 191 member states of WHO unanimously endorsed the start of negotiations for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to deal with these and other issues. A record 50 nations took the floor to pledge financial and political support for the Convention, including the five permanent members of the United Nations’ Security Council, as well as major tobacco growing and exporting countries. The FCTC will be the world’s first tobacco control treaty and has the potential to have an historic impact on global public health.

Structure & Timeline

Under the convention/protocol approach, governments negotiate a framework convention that calls for cooperation in achieving broadly stated goals and contain agreements regarding issues on which there is consensus. At the same time, states may negotiate separate protocol agreements on more technical or contentious issues. This approach has been used to address other global problems, such as climate change.

The Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI), a cabinet-level project of WHO created by Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland, will act as Secretariat for the FCTC during the negotiations. Meanwhile, a Working Group, open to all WHO Member States, has been created to prepare proposed draft elements of the FCTC. The Working Group will have its second meeting from 27-29 March 2000 in Geneva. A draft report, which will be considered by the Working Group, will be posted on the FCTC web page one month prior to this meeting. The Group will then prepare a final report that will serve as the starting point for formal negotiations, which are scheduled to commence in October 2000. Though the negotiation of each treaty is unique and depends upon the political will of states, WHO foresees adoption of the Convention and related protocols no later than May 2003, after which it will open for ratification.

Possible Issues to Be Negotiated

The actual content of the Convention and related protocols will depend upon the priorities of the member nations. Possible issues that could be addressed include: tobacco price and tax policies; passive smoking; protecting women, children and adolescents; smuggling of tobacco products; sale of duty-free tobacco products; advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products; tobacco product regulation, including testing and reporting of tobacco product ingredients and constituents, and the ability to require tobacco product modification; tobacco industry regulation; information exchange; health education and research; agricultural policies; and tobacco use prevention and cessation. Discussions with government delegations and Secretariat staff indicate that, aside from the text of the Framework Convention itself, the first three protocols to be negotiated may be on smuggling, advertising and cessation/treatment.

This narrow focus means that we need to emphasize banning cigarettes' manufacture and sale, not these ultra-limited aspects that are not a real solution.

The Framework Convention Needs Strong U.S. Support

As the home to the world’s largest multinational tobacco company, and as an exporter of tobacco addiction, the United States has a particular responsibility to display constructive leadership and support for the Framework Convention process. This will involve, among other things, ensuring high-level representation from the United States at the negotiations and committing political and financial support to the Framework process.

The negotiation and implementation of the FCTC could make an enormous contribution to stemming the growth of the tobacco epidemic by raising national and international awareness, implementing effective national tobacco control measures and providing technical and financial resources. The Convention will also serve as a platform for multilateral cooperation on aspects of tobacco control that transcends national boundaries, including global marketing/promotion of tobacco products and smuggling.

In addition to the specific benefits of the Convention and related protocols, the process leading to the passage of the FCTC is likely to:

* Give new impetus to efforts to strengthen national legislation and action to control the harm caused by tobacco.

* Help mobilize national and global technical and financial support for tobacco control.

* Bring new ministries, including those dealing with foreign affairs and finance, more deeply into the tobacco control effort.

* Mobilize NGOs and other members of civil society in support of stronger tobacco control.

* Raise public awareness of marketing tactics used by transnational tobacco companies abroad.

There is also a "Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids" effort, at http://tobaccofreekids.org/campaign/global/.

In Canada, there is also a "Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada" effort, at http://www.smoke-free.ca/eng_issues/govt_fctc.htm.

Feel free to tailor your comments to any interests of concern to you or your organization. Examples (or you may categorize these issues in different ways, or identify others):

General Health Issues

Youth Issues

Women's Issues

Societal Issues

Miscellaneous Issues

Toxic Chemicals

Law Related Sites


Copy of TCPG Comments (At US FCTC Site)

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Here is Subsequent News:

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  • "Global Tobacco Treaty Approved" (3 Dec 2004)

  • "Groups Decry Bush Inaction on Tobacco Treaty" (15 Dec 2004)

  • "Tobacco control pact in effect" (27 Feb 2005)

  • "Tobacco Control Treaty Takes Effect" (28 Feb 2005)

  • "China Ratifies Tobacco Treaty" (30 August 2005)