List of World No Tobacco Day awardees - 2005
1. Alianza Nacional para el Control del Tabaco del Uruguay- Uruguay (National Alliance for Tobacco Control of Uruguay)
The government of Uruguay was one of the first in the Americas to ratify the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). Although ratification clearly requires government support, the activities of the National Alliance for Tobacco Control helped make ratification much more politically attractive for the government. Comprised of health professional and other non-governmental organizations, the Alliance initiated an intense, savvy campaign in support of WHO FCTC ratification by working with the media to get positive news coverage, mobilizing their memberships, lobbying parliamentarians and drawing public attention to the aggressive promotional strategies of tobacco companies. The campaign was successful in part because it was targeted at multiple sectors of government, including the areas of education, culture, and sports as well as health. The Alliance is continuing its campaign by supporting implementation of the obligations of the WHO FCTC, with a focus on smoke-free environments. The activities and success of the Alliance provide a case study of the importance of civil society involvement in tobacco control.
2. Paula Johns and the Rede de Desenvolvimento Humano (REDEH)- Brazil (Human Development Network)
REDEH, an established organization with a respected track record in promoting women’s rights, became involved in tobacco control in 2002 with a project using hip-hop music to promote tobacco control in favelas (low-income neighborhoods) in Rio de Janeiro. Since that time it has become a leader in civil society efforts to promote tobacco control in Brazil, in large part because of the efforts of Paula Johns. Johns’ experience with organizing networks has made her particularly suited to the task of bringing together a diverse cross-section of civil society to advocate for tobacco control. She led REDEH in developing the Tobacco Zero Network, a group of more than 100 health, women’s, workers’, educational, scientific and environmental organizations that promotes tobacco control policies and WHO FCTC ratification. The network dialogues with tobacco farmers, sponsors workshops for the public, media and politicians, participates in international campaigns, promotes smoke-free environments and provides resources to help smokers quit. Within just three years, the involvement of civil society in tobacco control in Brazil has grown from a handful of organizations to one of the most sophisticated tobacco control activist networks in the world. This has been due in no small part to the leadership and skillful management of Paula Johns and REDEH.
3. Odessa Henriquez and the Asociación Hondureña de los Médicos- Honduras (Honduras Medical Association)
During negotiations on the WHO FCTC, the government of Honduras was facing intense pressure from tobacco manufacturers and their allies to oppose a strong WHO FCTC. Although there was support within the Ministry of Health for tobacco control, the resources available were no match for the opposition. This changed when civil society became active through the efforts of a tobacco control coalition led by Dr. Odessa Henriquez President of the Honduras Medical Association. It was clear that for the government to move forward, the strength of the tobacco industry had to be balanced by a strong public health voice.
4. Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada- Canada
Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (PSC) has evolved from a small group of physicians concerned about the lack of action to combat the tobacco epidemic in 1985, to a politically influential organization with two full-time and several part-time staff members in 2005. When few other health professional organizations in Canada were thinking about tobacco, PSC’s cadre of physician volunteers was instrumental in making the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics the first Olympic Games to be smoke-free. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, PSC’s membership has grown to 1,500 and the organization is one of Canada’s leading tobacco control agencies. Two of its most recent activities have been the “Heather Crowe Campaign” to promote protection of workers from secondhand smoke, and promotion of the WHO FCTC, nationally and through the international Framework Convention Alliance. PSC provides a strong example for any health professional organization wanting to become involved in tobacco control.
5. St. Vincent and the Grenadines Medical Association- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
It is not common now, and was even rarer 15 years ago, for medical associations to take on tobacco control as one of their main issues. This is particularly true in very small, developing nations with shortages in health personnel and a host of other public health problems to address. The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Medical Association has notably gone against this trend. Since 1988, it has waged a campaign for its members to quit smoking and help their patients to quit, promoted tobacco control in the medical college curriculum, conducted public and media education campaigns, and advocated extensively for the implementation of smoke-free environments in all public buildings. These activities, in a country with a population of just 120,000, have had a significant impact on public support for tobacco control measures and exemplify the range of roles that health professionals can and should play in combating the tobacco epidemic.