For release Feb 12, 2003

DC Headquarters:
Contact: Diana Silbergeld 202-547-0953

co-hosted by Essential Action
Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control
Contact: Anna White 202- 387-8030

D.C. Rally One of Seven Major Events Across US Demonstrating Strong Support for World's First Public Health Treaty on Tobacco

Community Leaders, Local Officials, Public Health Advocates Urge Bush Administration to Stop Blocking Progress on Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Washington, D.C.- As U.S. delegates prepare for the final round of talks on a global tobacco treaty, D.C. community leaders and Congressmen are urging them to put public health first at a downtown rally. At the Department of Health and Human Services, Infact and Essential Action were joined by the American Lung Association, Black Leadership Council for Excellence and activists, all holding banners and demanding a strong global tobacco treaty. Statements were also presented from Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas, Rep. Henry Waxman of California, Senator Durbin of Illinois, and Tom Novotny, former chair of the U.S. delegation to the treaty.

Throughout the treaty talks, the US has been sharply criticized for protecting the interests of tobacco giant Philip Morris at the expense of public health. At major events from coast to coast, activists joined with the national corporate accountability organization Infact to express strong support for the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

In D.C., politicians are releasing statements of support for a strong treaty in Geneva.
"While an overwhelming majority of nations seek meaningful action against the nicotine pandemic, this Administration continues to appease Big Tobacco at the expense of public health," said Rep. Lloyd Doggett. "The pockets of Big Tobacco's political allies are bulging with campaign contributions, while the victims worldwide are offered only disability and lingering death from emphysema, lung cancer, and heart disease."

Infact organizer Diana Silbergeld said that activists gathered this morning to call on the Bush administration to stop blocking progress on the world's first public health treaty.
"The FCTC has the potential to reverse the global tobacco epidemic, which is claiming nearly five million lives every year. In the face of this staggering death toll, the US must put public health before the profits of Philip Morris," she said.

Anna White, coordinator of Essential Action's Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control program told the crowd that the W.H.O. projects that tobacco will kill over 10 million people annually by 2025.

"It's time for the world's richest country to stop hijacking the world's first global health treaty, and let the poorest countries of the world protect their citizens from predatory tobacco companies' weapons of mass destruction," White told the crowd.

Five days before the start of the final round of FCTC talks, Infact is releasing Cowboy Diplomacy: How the US Undermines International Environmental, Human Rights, Disarmament and Health Agreements. The hard-hitting report finds that dthe US has increasingly isolated itself from the global community on issues of enormous global, humanitarian and environmental consequence. The release of Cowboy Diplomacy is intensifying pressure on the Bush administration regarding its position on the FCTC at a time when concerns about US unilateralism are particularly high.

At a rally in San Francisco today, former chair of the US FCTC negotiating team and former Assistant Surgeon General, Dr. Tom Novotny is calling on the Bush administration to do much more to make the FCTC strong and enforceable. Novotny, who led the US delegation through two rounds of talks, resigned from his position in August 2001. His participation in today's events sends a strong message to the current US FCTC delegation.

The FCTC is scheduled to be adopted in May, and the US is one of a few wealthy countries trying to stall the FCTC's progress. The final round of negotiations on the treaty will take place in February in Geneva. The US is under increasing pressure to stop putting the profits of Philip Morris ahead of public health worldwide. In addition to today's event in D.C. rallies are being held in Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.

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Since 1977, Infact has been exposing life-threatening abuses of transnational corporations and organizing successful grassroots campaigns to hold corporations accountable to consumers and society at large. From the Nestlé Boycott of the 1970s and '80s to the GE Boycott of the 1980s and '90s to today's Boycott of Philip Morris's Kraft Foods, Infact organizes to win! For more information visit

Essential Action, a DC - based corporate accountability group, launched Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control in 2000 to help support and strengthen international tobacco control activities at the grass roots level. More than 360 groups in over 100 countries and 40 U.S. states and territories are currently involved in the program.