World No Tobacco Day awards 2014

WHO gives the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) awards every year to carefully selected individuals and/or organizations in recognition of their accomplishments in tobacco control.

The awards recognize international achievements in the fight against the global tobacco epidemic and in the promotion of tobacco control initiatives and policies. They are awarded to individuals and institutions selected for long-term commitment and outstanding contribution in research, advocacy, health promotion, capacity building and other activities that promote and enforce tobacco control. The following individuals and organizations have been selected for the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2014:

Dr Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, President of Turkmenistan

The President of Turkmenistan, Dr Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow has received the WHO World No Tobacco Day DG’s special recognition certificate due to his outstanding leadership and personal commitment, encouraging other countries to defend strong tobacco control policies and align existing legislation with WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and its guidelines.

Since 2000, Turkmenistan has made outstanding progress in tobacco control. Enforcing a ban on smoking in all public places in 2000, ratifying the WHO FCTC in 2011 and adopting one of the strongest comprehensive tobacco control laws in 2013, the country has become one of the tobacco control leaders in the European Region. Strong and continuous tobacco control measures are clearly expressed in low smoking prevalence rates among the adult population. The recent STEPS survey confirms that only 8% of Turkmen population smokes. This is the lowest rate of smokers in the Region as well as globally.

Mr Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, Minister of Health of the Republic of Lithuania

Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, Minister of Health of the Republic of Lithuania, played a key role in the successful negotiations and adoption of the new European Union Tobacco Products Directive. The Directive was adopted by the European Parliament in February 2014 and is in line with the WHO FCTC. It is legally binding to 28 European Union countries and therefore has a direct implication on the national tobacco control policies in those countries.

Through his strong leadership and commitment, Minister Andriukaitis worked tirelessly to convince Members of the European Parliament and Ministers of Health to tackle the tobacco industry and prioritize health, thus paving the way for formal adoption of the Tobacco Products Directive early in 2014.

Mr Iurie Leancă, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova has been directly involved in elaborating and adopting a strong anti-tobacco law. The law is extensive in its provisions, advancing the policies and measures contained in the WHO FCTC and its guidelines and also going much further than the recently adopted EU Directive. Although the law has still to pass through Parliament, it represents a great step towards smoke-free public areas, a ban on tobacco advertising and radical changes in the labelling and marketing of tobacco products. It would not have been possible to develop, approve and promote such an extensive law without the direct backing of the Prime Minister Iurie Leancă. The Prime Minister sent a clear signal of his intent to push forward a strong law by mobilizing ministers, holding consultations with civil society organization and the mass media as well as personally appearing in a 3-minute video spot for an anti-smoking campaign.

Ms Ailsa Margaret Rutter, Director of Fresh/Smokefree North East, United Kingdom

Ailsa Margaret Rutter set up the first regional tobacco control programme in the United Kingdom, FRESH/Smokefree North East, of which she has been Director since 2005. She has worked tirelessly to ensure that it continues to be funded as responsibility for public health moved to local authorities from the National Health Service at a time of severe funding cuts for local authorities. She has played a key role in supporting major tobacco control campaigns in England, including the adoption and maintenance of the tobacco tax “escalator”, by which the UK Government is raising duties on cigarettes and tobacco products each year by the inflation rate plus 2%. 

As a pioneer and leader of regional tobacco control work, Ms Rutter has led an organization with an unparalleled record of success in reducing regional smoking prevalence rates, and in tackling some of the key problems associated with tobacco use, including illicit trade.  The model she established has been replicated very successfully in the Northwest and Southwest and could very usefully be followed by other European regions.

Dr James Reilly, Minister of Health of the Republic of Ireland

Dr James Reilly personally stands behind the preparation, adoption and start of the implementation of the Tobacco-Free Ireland 2025 adopted in 2013. The aim of this policy document is to decrease smoking to 5% or less by 2025 by implementing a series of strong and evidence-based actions. By adopting and committing itself to this visionary policy, the Republic of Ireland takes its place among the leading countries globally working towards tobacco-free societies.

The Republic of Ireland is one of the leading tobacco control countries in the WHO European Region, and globally. March 2014 marked 10 years since the ban on smoking was enforced at all workplaces in the Republic of Ireland, which had been the first country in the world to introduce this measure. Minister Reilly has been at the forefront of these decisions, providing clear leadership and standing firm for their implementation. He as Minister of Health played a key role in the decision to introduce the plain packaging of tobacco products in the Republic of Ireland. This courageous decision follows the example of Australia to adopt such an effective and bold measure to protect the health of people and avoid young people to take up the tobacco addiction.

Dr Tonio Borg, Health Commissioner, European Commission

European Union Health Commissioner Tonio Borg has consistently and effectively demonstrated his overwhelming commitment to tobacco control and to the implementation of the WHO FCTC. He has successfully led the challenging process towards adoption of the new EU Directive. The process was mired by controversy and unprecedented interference from the tobacco industry. But the initial public consultation received 85 000 submissions and a record 1300 amendments were submitted by Members of the European Parliament.

The combination of Dr Borg’s political experience and strong commitment to European health constitutes one of the most important factors in the success of the EU Directive revision which, in particular, introduces 65% warnings on both sides of cigarette packaging, a ban on characterizing flavours including menthol, and stricter tracking and tracing requirements in all 28 Member States of the European Union.

Commissioner Borg is an outstanding European policy-maker without whom the formal adoption of the EU Directive in March 2014 would have been unimaginable. Time and again, he stood up against the interference from the tobacco industry and unfounded arguments in support of evidence-based tobacco control measures that protect Europe’s children and young people from the harm caused by tobacco. He successfully used his expertise and experience to build support among the members of their respective institutions, and consequently secure the adoption of the new Directive.