Washington, DC - Five leading U.S. public health organizations today called on members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors to withdraw from the Chamber unless it stops fighting measures to reduce tobacco use around the world.
“The U.S. Chamber’s pro-tobacco work harms health around the world and does not serve the interests of the American business community,” the five health groups wrote in letters sent to the more than 100 companies and organizations on the U.S. Chamber’s Board of Directors.
The health groups sending the letter are the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Legacy.
The letter follows a recent investigative series in The New York Times that exposed how the U.S. Chamber has worked systematically in countries around the world to oppose public health measures that reduce tobacco use. The New York Times’ articles revealed how the U.S. Chamber has used strategies that include directly opposing countries’ tobacco control policies; pitting countries against each other in lengthy, expensive international trade disputes; and influencing international trade agreements to benefit tobacco companies.
In response to the New York Times’ coverage, CVS Health resigned from the U.S. Chamber.
In today’s letter, the five health groups called on the U.S. Chamber’s board members to:
Urge the Chamber to stop all lobbying and other activities opposing non-discriminatory measures to reduce tobacco use anywhere in the world, and
If the Chamber fails to do so, follow the lead of CVS Health by withdrawing from membership in the Chamber.
The letter points out that tobacco is different from other consumer products in that it kills when used as intended, there is a global treaty ratified by 180 nations that is designed to reduce the use of tobacco products, and the tobacco industry has a long history of deception and marketing to children. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco kills about six million people worldwide each year and is projected to kill one billion people this century unless current trends are reversed.