PAHO/WHO Honors Individuals and Institutions For Tobacco Control Contributions

Winners are from Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Suriname

Health officials, researchers and a legislative body from Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Suriname will be honored by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) for their contributions to advancing tobacco control on 31 May, World No Tobacco Day.

World No Tobacco Day seeks to call attention to the harmful effects of tobacco use and promotes public health measures aimed at reducing tobacco consumption and exposure to secondhand smoke. PAHO will celebrate World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, starting at 10:30 a.m. EST. The event will include the launch of a regional campaign with the slogan “Don’t Buy Lies,” which exposes the deceptive nature of tobacco marketing, and the presentation of awards to the winners of the 2013 World No Tobacco Day Awards from the region of the Americas.

The awardees are:

Marthelise Eersel, Director of Health of Suriname. Under Dr. Eersel, Suriname’s Ministry of Health has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and dedication to promoting the highest level of health for the population through a diligent effort to implement the provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), since the country’s ratification of the treaty in 2008. Eersel’s ministry developed recently approved tobacco control legislation and worked hard during the legislative debate to prevent the inclusion of amendments supported by opponents of tobacco control.

The National Assembly of Suriname. In February of this year, Suriname’s National Assembly unanimously approved a new tobacco control law, making Suriname the first country in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to achieve such a high level of tobacco control. The law bans tobacco smoke in all closed public spaces, indoor workplaces, and some outside public spaces, and prohibits all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. The legislation includes requirements for graphic warnings on tobacco packaging and product labeling.

Jaime Mañalich, Minister of Health of Chile. Minister of Health Mañalich successfully navigated passage of a new tobacco control law that requires all closed public spaces and workplaces to be smoke-free and that increases former restrictions on advertising and promotion of tobacco products to a complete ban. The law was approved in January 2013.

Roberto Castro Córdoba, chief of the Health Situation Analysis Unit in the Department of Health Surveillance of Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health. Córdoba actively participated in the commission that drafted Costa Rica’s 2012 tobacco control law and advocated for its passage in the mass media, and also participated in revisions of the law as it proceeded through the legislative process. The law makes Costa Rica 100% smoke-free in closed public spaces and workplaces; puts strong restrictions on advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and requires graphic warnings and labels on tobacco packaging.

Geoffrey T. Fong, of Canada. In 2002, a year before the adoption of the FCTC, Professor Fong created the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Policy Evaluation Project, an internationally recognized framework for evaluating and understanding the impact of policies contained in the FCTC. In 2009, he created the ITC Dissemination Program, which to date has produced an extraordinary body of detailed reports that communicate the results of ITC to politicians, parliamentarians, lawyers, researchers, and other key parties. As part of this project, a group was also formed to carry out economic analyses of data from more than 20 countries, considered fundamental for persuading governments to implement strong policies, especially in the fiscal area. His efforts have made a significant difference in advancing the fight against one of the leading preventable causes of death in the world.

Joaquín Barnoya Pérez, of Guatemala. As a researcher, Barnoya has generated multiple studies of tobacco consumption that have raised awareness and knowledge about this serious public health problem in his native Guatemala and in Latin America in general. He has extensively studied the strategies of the tobacco industry to block tobacco control progress in the region. His studies on nicotine concentrations in public places were important in providing evidence for smoke-free legislation in Guatemala.

The global tobacco epidemic kills some 6 million people each year, 1 million of them in the Americas. The awards recognize achievements in the fight against the global epidemic of tobacco and in the promotion of tobacco control initiatives and policies. The awardees are selected for their long- term commitment to research, advocacy, health promotion and capacity building, as well as other activities that promote and enforce tobacco control.

PAHO, founded in 1902, is the oldest international public health organization in the world. It works with its member countries to improve the health and the quality of life of the people of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO.

World No Tobacco Day 2013

Tobacco Control (PAHO)