U.S. Hijacks Global Health!
Demonstration at U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

February 12, 2003

Yesterday, Infact and Essential Action held a demonstration outside of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in Washington, DC to draw attention to U.S. efforts to sabotage negotiations of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The 6th and last round of FCTC negotiations begin next Monday (Feb 17) in Geneva.

Essential Action brought out its 10+ foot high "U.S. Pack of Lies" prop, complete with four gigantic cigarettes labelled "Weapon of Mass Destruction", "U.S. Hijacks Global Health", "U.S.: Stop Fronting for Big Tobacco" and "Tommy T: Tobacco or Health?" For links to photos and more information, see below!


Essential Action arrived at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services bright and early at 7:30am to distribute flyers about the noon rally to employees coming to work. The flyers featured photos of DHHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, President George Bush and the infamous photo of the seven tobacco company executives lying under oath, and the text "Think the U.S. is Opposed to Weapons of Mass Destruction? Think Again...The U.S. Fronts for One of the Greatest Purveyors of WOMD: BIG TOBACCO." Within an hour, our 150 flyers were all gone. View the flyer: HTML, Word - page 1, page 2

We also passed out color postcards, courtesy the San Francisco Tobacco Free Coalition, with the text ""It's a lot easier to sell cigarettes around the world when you have the U.S. government on your team," featuring George Bush tipping his cowboy hat. To view the postcard at www.stopglobaltobacco.org [click on "Postcards (PDF)"]


About 25 people attended the rally itself -- a great turnout for DC, particularly given the out-of-the-way location and bitter cold and windy weather conditions. We set up our large "U.S. Pack of Lies" prop in view of both the U.S. Capitol and U.S. Department of Human Services building and sign. Several reporters came, including someone from National Public Radio, who taped the entire rally.

The rally began with a picket line and some spirited chants decrying the pro-tobacco positions of the U.S. delegation to the FCTC. Read chants

Infact organizer, Diana Silbergeld, started by relating a telephone conversation she had had that morning with Kenneth Bernard, Assistant Surgeon General and chair of the U.S. delegation to the FCTC. Mr. Bernard expressed deep frustration over the hundreds of phone calls, emails, and letters he has been receiving (great job everyone!). Needless to say, Mr. Bernard turned down Diana's invitation to come to our rally!

GPTC Coordinator Anna White then spoke about tobacco's incredible global toll, a toll that the World Health Organization projects will rise to over 10 million deaths annually by 2030 -- the equivalent of 95 jet planes full of passengers crashing each and every day of the year. She emphasized the irony of the Bush Administration's failure to properly address these "weapons of mass destruction."

Next, a statement from American Lung Association was read by Geetha Veliah, Program Manager of Tobacco Control.

Followed by statement by Moka Pantages of the Charles County Maryland Youth Movement Against Tobacco Use. Moka is a new GPTC participant!

Statements of solidarity from GPTC participants around the world were also read at the rally:

"If the US hinders the FCTC, it will be responsible for tobacco’s global death toll"
Dr. Kamel Bekersi, President
NGO Sante Sii El Houari

"The message to US Delegation is clear : They MUST not allow their own tobacco companies to advertise tobacco so ruthlessly and shamelessly and unethically, in developing countries. The practices which tobacco companies cannot indulge in their own country, should not be allowed to happen across their borders."
Bobby Ramakant, Pilot Coordinator
INGCAT Task force for South East Asia

"Money is not as important as people lives"
Muna Hamzeh, Chief of Health Education
Ministry of Health

"U.S. should know it influences the whole world. We use American examples here in our advocacy. Please do something positive. Forget selfishness, so that you can be the world leader in truth -- indeed, the world is watching and waiting"
Seun Akioye, Campaign Director
Journalist Advocacy for Safe Environment & Tobacco Eradication (JASETE)

"Protecting your own nation is not enough, protect others as well
Jin Sook Choi, Secretary General
Korean Association of Smoking and Health


U.S. "Pack of Lies" prop & giant cigarettes in front of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Banner "It's a lot easier to sell cigarettes around the world when you have the U.S. government on your team" (features photo of Bush tipping his cowboy hat) in front of DHHS sign

Sign "Stop Fronting for Big Tobacco" (features photo of DHHS Secretary Tommy Thompson)

Sign "U.S. & Phillip Morris - Stop the Killing!" with U.S. Capitol in the background

Sign "Whose Side Are You On - Big Tobacco or Public Health?" (features photo of George Bush)

Sign "World's #1 Marlboro Man" (features photo of Bush tipping cowboy hat)

National Public Radio records GPTC Coordinator Anna White

Infact organizer Diana Silbergeld speaks in front of "Pack of Lies" prop

GPTC participant Moka Pantages, CCMYMATU, calling for the U.S. to support a strong FCTC

Demonstrators posing with "Pack of Lies" prop and cigarettes

Demonstrators posing with "Pack of Lies" prop and cigarettes - 2

More photos are up at:


Press Release (Infact, Essential Action)

Statement of Thomas E. Novotny, MD MPH
Former Chief US Delegate to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
San Francisco, Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Letter from Rep. Henry Waxman (CA) and Senator Richard Durbin (IL) to President Bush, decrying the U.S. government's efforts support Big Tobacco's global expansion. The letter addresses: 1) Trade negotiations that benefit tobacco companies. 2) Market assistance to tobacco companies. 3) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. 4) Smuggling.
Date: February 12, 2003

New Infact Report "Cowboy Diplomacy: How the U.S. Undermines International Environmental, Human Rights, Disarmament and Health Agreements"
For a copy, contact Infact at: <[email protected]>


U.S. retreat extinguishes tough global-smoking limits
Op Ed - USA Today
Wed Feb 12, 2003

Up in smoke
The World Health Organization has spent three years crafting a global tobacco treaty. As negotiations come down to the wire, U.S. delegates appointed by President Bush's tobacco-friendly White House are gutting it.
By Tali Woodward, San Francisco Bay Guardian
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

U.S. Should Lead Efforts to Protect Global Health or Get Out of the Way As Final Negotiations Begin on Tobacco Treaty (Feb. 17-28)
Statement of Judith Wilkenfeld, Director of International Programs, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids

Ex-Clinton official rips White House on tobacco treaty
He says U.N. draft has been 'watered down' since he quit as U.S. delegation chairman
by Sabin Russell, San Francisco Chronicle
Thursday, February 13, 2003

Bush Accused of Catering to Big Tobacco on Global Treaty
By Robert B. Bluey
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
February 13, 2003

Essential Action
Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control

P.O. Box 19405 ~ Washington, DC 20036
Tel: +1 202-387-8030 ~ Fax: +1 202-234-5176
Email: [email protected]