208 Organizations Unite to Call on UN Committee to Recommend Stronger Tobacco Control Policies

WASHINGTON, DC – Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is joined by 207 signatories from 61 countries in calling on the UN Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to maintain and strengthen its call to country Parties in the Draft General Recommendation n°37 on Racial Discrimination in the enjoyment of the right to health to reduce or prevent the harms of tobacco.

The existing Draft recommendation is already an historic first for the tobacco control community, serving as a firm acknowledgement of the fact that the tobacco epidemic worsens public health disparities.

“ASH is honored to be a part of this important consultation process aimed at strengthening human rights protections worldwide,” said Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, Managing Attorney at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). “The tobacco industry violates numerous legally protected human rights every day through the production, marketing, and sale of an addictive and deadly product – cigarettes.”

Signatory organizations include academic institutions, legal centers, and public health advocacy organizations who are united in their agreement that the tobacco epidemic impacts global citizens’ enjoyment of their basic human rights, such as their right to health.

The joint submission includes key recommendations for the UN Committee to consider to:

  1. Strengthen the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control;
  2. Support culturally competent cessation support;
  3. Combat targeted advertising by tobacco companies and flavored tobacco products;
  4. Protect indigenous peoples from the tobacco industry; and
  5. Affirm the connection between the right to health and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

A strong General Recommendation from CERD is essential because the UN human rights treaty has been ratified by 182 countries, meaning CERD is law where ratified. General Recommendation 37 will be a global legal recommendation to strengthen tobacco control at the national level.

Tobacco products are the leading cause of preventable death, worldwide. Countries must act quickly to strengthen their tobacco control policies to protect their citizens’ right to health.