Global Tobacco Control

Tobacco use is arguably one of the greatest public health threats facing the world today. If left unchecked, it will kill 1 billion people this century. The majority of these deaths will occur in developing countries.

The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law is a leader in the effort to reduce global tobacco use. Our work is comprised of three main strategies. First, the O’Neill Institute is researching the use of litigation as an approach for reducing tobacco use; litigation is an important tool in forcing industry to comply with domestic and international law as well as encouraging governments to adopt stronger tobacco control laws. Second, in partnership with domestic and international organizations, the O’Neill Institute is drafting shadow reports to accompany States’ Periodic Reports to human rights monitoring bodies. Third, the O’Neill Institute works with advocates in low-and middle-income countries to target rights-based and constitutional arguments to their specific cultural, economic, and political environments.

The O’Neill Institute has received support for this project from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids as part of the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use.

Tobacco Industry Strategy in Latin American Courts: A Litigation Guide

cover of the Tobacco Industry Strategy in Latin American Courts: a Litigation Guide features a stack of unsmoked cigarettes

This guide seeks to provide answers to the tobacco industry’s efforts to undermine tobacco control efforts by judicially challenging tobacco regulation. The arguments developed in this guide can be used to respond to lawsuits presented by the industry. In addition, these same arguments could be used to sue both the government and the industry to ensure that their behaviors are in compliance with human rights obligations derived from the right to the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health, using the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) as a reference. Read More »

A Guide to Tobacco-Related Shadow Reporting before United Nations Human Rights Bodies

This guide has sought to assist advocates in using shadow reports before the United Nations Treaty Monitoring bodies as an effective tool to strengthen tobacco control policies and legal frameworks both at the national and international levels. This guide specifically focuses on the use of shadow reports by tobacco control advocates in the context of three human right treaties: (1) The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Again Women (CEDAW); (2) the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); and (3) the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). English | Español


The O’Neill Institute uses a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and transnational lens to respond to tobacco regulation challenges with world-class research and scholarship. Our research is based in International Human Rights Law, which asserts that States have the obligation to respect, protect and guarantee the rights to life and health as an essential part of the intangible core of human personality. Using this perspective, we conduct research on specific legal issues connected to tobacco regulation. View publications on tobacco control »

Using Litigation to Advance Tobacco Control

Litigation is a key element in tobacco control. Our work includes advising health advocates, public agencies, and governments in their response to industry challenges, creating and supporting litigation strategies, and linking our research with policy discussions around the world. The O’Neill Institute connects tobacco control litigation with international human rights law, contributing to the promotion of more effective tobacco control policies. Besides capacity building and litigation-related advice for proposed or approved tobacco control policies, the O’Neill Institute engages with courts through the development of amicus briefs (amicus curiae). Amicus briefs are tools that offer courts additive information to assist in deciding a pending matter. Amicus briefs can be a very effective in supporting tobacco control efforts at the national and regional level.


Tobacco Industry Strategy in Latin American Courts: A Litigation Guide English | Español

Peru: July 2011

Amicus Curiae submitted by O’Neill Institute, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and COLAT (Perú) English | Español

Judgment from the Peruvian Constitutional Tribunal Upholding Constitutionality of Reformed Smoke Free Law Highlighting Recommendations from the O’Neill Institute Amicus Brief.  English | Español

Mexico: June 2011

Amicus Curiae submitted by O’Neill Institute, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and FIC (México) English | Español

Judgment from the Mexican Supreme Court on a tobacco control case submitted by an individual, strengthening right to health’s justiciability in Mexico. Español

Linking Tobacco Control and Human Rights

By examining emerging trends in tobacco control policies, legislation and litigation, the O’Neill Institute contributes to the expanding connections between human rights and tobacco control, linking our research with policy discussions around the world. The O’Neill Institute analyzes tobacco control policies, legislation and litigation cases to promote a better protection of the right to health in the face of the tobacco epidemic, which can support the work of advocates in this field. From this perspective, the O’Neill Institute has used shadow reports to deepen the connection between human rights obligations and tobacco control. Shadow reports, are channels to participate in the revision of country compliance with human rights obligations, and can propel tobacco control efforts forward at both the national and global levels.


A guide to tobacco-related shadow reporting before United Nations human rights bodies. English | Español

Argentina: October 2012

O’Neill Institute shadow report: “Violations of the Right to Health because of inadequate regulations of NCD’s in Argentina”. Español

Human Rights Committee, Draft of the Concluding Observations to Argentina’s Periodic Report, Taking into account recommendations submitted by the O’Neill Institute, FIC-Argentina and FUNDEPS (Argentina) as partners. English

Argentina: November 2011

O’Neill Institute shadow report “Tobacco Control in Argentina: Advances and Pending Tasks” English | Español

CESCR’s Concluding Observations to Argentina’s Periodic Report, taking into account recommendations submitted by the O’Neill Institute and FIC-Argentina and FUNDEPS (Argentina) as partners

Argentina: June 2010

O’Neill Institute shadow report “Challenges in the Prevention and Reduction of Women’s Tobacco Use in Argentina”English

CEDAW’s Concluding Observations to Argentina’s Periodic Report, taking into account recommendations submitted by the O’Neill Institute and partners from Argentina

Brazil: May 2009

O’Neill Institute shadow report “Preventing and Reducing Tobacco Use in Brazil: Pending Tasks” English

CESCR’s Concluding Observations to Brazil’s Periodic Report, taking into account recommendations submitted by the O’Neill Institute and ACT Brazil as partners

See also other O’Neill Institute tobacco related projects:

The O’Neill Institute Initiative on Trade, Investment and Health aims to bridge the gap between public health and international trade and investment law. The initiative is focused on the effects of trade and investment agreements on domestic regulatory autonomy, including tobacco control efforts and the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Read More

Selected Publications

Thematic Areas: Food and Drug Law, Health and Human Rights, Non-Communicable Diseases

Status: Active


Recent Publications

Lindblom, Eric N., Micah Berman & James Thrasher, “The Legal Framework for Using Tobacco Product Inserts and Onserts to Help Consumers Make More Informed Choices and to Reduce Tobacco Use Harms,” O’Neill Institute Working Paper No. 2, July 6, 2016.

Lindblom, Eric N. “Effectively Regulating E-Cigarettes and Their Advertising— and the First Amendment.” Food and Drug Law Journal (2015)

Lindblom, Eric N. “Filling in the Blanks on Reducing Tobacco Product Addictiveness in the FCTC Partial Guidelines for Articles 9 & 10.” O’Neill Institute Working Paper No. 1, November 17, 2014.

Cabrera, Oscar A., and Lawrence O. Gostin. “Human rights and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: mutually reinforcing systems.” Cambridge University Press, International Journal of Law in Context 7, no. 3 (2011): 285-303.

McGrady, Benn. Confronting the Tobacco Epidemic in a New Era of Trade and Investment Liberalization. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2012.

McGrady, Benn. Trade and Public Health: The WTO, Tobacco, Alcohol and Diet. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011

View all Tobacco Publications »