Testimony of A. Jenny Foreit, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, at the 3rd U.S. Public Hearing on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Public comment and presentation of petitions to the U.S. Delegation to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Sep. 20 2002

Nashville, TN — Good morning, and I thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. My name is Jenny Foreit, and I am with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a Washington DC-based advocacy organization that, for nearly three years, has been active in raising domestic awareness about the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Our role has been to educate, inform and listen to the American people about the FCTC, to hear their voices and to try to represent them in Geneva alongside the voices of civil society from around the world.

The United States government is a government of the people. I stand before you today representing not my organization, but the people -- thousands of American citizens who have voiced their opinion on the proper role of the United States government at the FCTC negotiations. Through paper and on-line petitions, they are standing behind several basic, fundamental positions that are necessary for an effective treaty.

My associate, Mr. Butts, will give you copies of the more than nine thousand signatures that we, and other organizations, have collected so far on the first petition. It is titled "Support HEALTH not Tobacco: a Petition for United States Leadership." It reads as follows:

"We are Americans who believe our nation should lead the fight for adoption of the strongest possible Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. This international tobacco control treaty, under the auspices of the World Health Organization, represents an essential tool in the fight to curtail tobacco sales and marketing that now claim the lives of 4 million people, including over 400,000 Americans, each year. We call upon President Bush to support the negotiation of a treaty that will ban all forms of tobacco advertising to the maximum extent permitted by national constitution, stop smuggling of tobacco products, fully protect the public from exposure to secondhand smoke, prohibit tobacco industry deception about its products, and end the use of international trade agreements to promote tobacco sales. It is time to stop supporting treaty positions that would only benefit the multinational tobacco companies. The United States should take the side of health over tobacco."

The second petition has been signed by more than one thousand young people. Many of them also signed the banner that is being unfurled by my colleagues behind me. This petition asks that the US government show leadership in keeping tobacco out of sports – be it through direct sponsorships of sporting teams, events, venues, or similar things, or through the industry's so-called anti-youth-smoking efforts.

This petition was titled, Support HEALTH not Tobacco. "Keep Sports Clean, Protect Youth by Banning Tobacco Sponsorship of Soccer and Other Sports." A Petition for United States Leadership. Its text reads,

"We are outraged that the Tobacco industry is permitted to continue marketing its deadly products to youth through sponsorship of sports like soccer. It is vital that a uniform, international standard be established that protects soccer and other sports from the deadly and corrupting influence of the tobacco companies. Voluntary efforts such as those recently advocated by FIFA have been ineffective in eliminating tobacco advertising and sponsorship of sporting events like the 2002 World Cup.

We believe the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is an essential tool in the fight to curtail tobacco sales and marketing that now claim the lives of 4 million people, including over 400,000 Americans, each year. At a minimum this Treaty must include provisions prohibiting advertising and sponsorship of sports by tobacco products. Such sponsorships promote youth tobacco use by conveying a dangerously deceptive message that smoking is compatible with athletic performance and health. In fact, the opposite is true and the United States should assure that sports like soccer, which are so popular with the world's youth, not be used by tobacco companies to promote the sale of their addictive products. Join us in supporting HEALTH for the world's children by keeping tobacco out of sports."

As you take the messages of this hearing back to Washington, I ask that you keep in mind the opinions of more than ten thousand Americans. They have just concerns about the image the country projects, how the government's positions affect the rest of the world, and have decided to inform their government of their concerns. They are counting on you to take the right position to help negotiate a strong, effective tobacco control treaty that elevates the protection of global public health over the protection of the multinational tobacco industry's money.

Thank you.

 

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