Megan Arendt, ASH USA
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) held their National Conference on Tobacco or Health (NCTOH) in Minneapolis, MN from August 27 – 29, 2019. It was an exciting week for public health experts, advocates, researchers, and policymakers to network and learn from each other, in turn strengthening public health policies and campaigns across the U.S.
NCTOH 2019 served as the launching pad for U.S. advocacy on Project Sunset, a global effort to phase-out the sale of commercial tobacco. During the Opening Plenary, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams spoke about the urgency of the tobacco epidemic and encouraged cities and states to get creative when seeking to end it. He noted that Beverly Hills’ Mayor John Mirisch was in attendance and had recently worked to end the sale of tobacco products in his city, making Beverly Hills the 1st U.S. city to adopt such an innovative and life-saving policy.
Conference organizers were kind enough to give Project Sunset a subplenary on the opening day. The speakers included Ruth Malone of the University of California, San Francisco, Carol McGruder of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, Joelle Lester of the Public Health Law Center, and Chris Bostic of Action on Smoking and Health, with Andrea Mowery moderating. The speakers covered key topics such as health inequities, legal challenges, advocacy, and public outreach.
Following the subplenary presentations, ASH Executive Director Laurent Huber presented John Mirisch, the Mayor of Beverly Hills, with the first-ever Sunset Award for Courage in Public Health. Beverly Hills is leading the way with their tobacco sales ban, and other cities will no doubt soon follow their lead.
Throughout the conference, Action on Smoking and Health ran the Project Sunset booth, distributing advocacy materials, answering questions, and gathering support. The Endgame subplenary speakers all spoke at the booth as well, diving in deeper on key topics with attendees who wanted to learn more about how to phase out the sale of cigarettes in their communities.
Project Sunset turns Philip Morris USA’s own Project Sunrise – a scheme to renormalize smoking – on its head. It’s time to respond to cigarette sales in a way that is proportionate to the harm they cause, and that stronger response started at the U.S. NCTOH this year.
Read more: An argument for phasing out sales of cigarettes by Tobacco Control editor-in-chief Ruth Malone and Elizabeth Smith, UCSF
Megan Arendt is the Communications Manager of ASH > Action on Smoking & Health.