Washington, D.C., 25 May, 2018 (PAHO / WHO) - The President of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, Dr. Tabaré Vázquez, is to be honored with the WHO Director-General's Special Recognition Award for World No Tobacco Day, the only Special Recognition to be given this year.
Dr. Vázquez was selected for the award in acknowledgement of his achievements scaling up tobacco control efforts in accordance with the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. These advances include, among many others, a total ban on the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products, as well as effective regulation of tobacco packaging and labeling.
Not only has Dr. Vázquez demonstrated commitment to ensure that Uruguay reaches the NCD targets, but through his role as host of the WHO Global Conference on noncommunicable diseases last year, he has also played a pivotal role in urging other heads of state to do the same. Under Dr. Vázquez's leadership, Uruguay has become a global point of reference in the fight against the tobacco epidemic and the broader fight against NCDs.
The awards take place each year and aim to recognize individuals or organizations in each of the six WHO regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control. As well as the Special Recognition Award, five other organizations and individuals from the Americas will also be recognized for their outstanding contributions to the fight against tobacco use in the region. These are:
The Institute for Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy (IECS), Argentina
The IECS will be recognized for its contribution towards developing evidence on the cost of the tobacco epidemic to health systems in the region. Evidence generated by IECS has already served as an invaluable basis for the development of effective policies, and has been widely cited in tobacco control laws and norms.
Dr. Guillermo Paraje, Chile
Dr. Paraje, Professor at the Universidad Adolfo Ibañez in Chile, will be recognized for his leadership in the implementation and promotion of relevant, high-quality research in support of tobacco control policies in the region. Dr. Paraje has also served as an example to other researchers working on the economics of tobacco control in the Americas.
The Ministry of Public Health, Guyana
The Ministry of Public Health in Guyana is being recognized for its work leading up to the approval of the country's tobacco control law. This law positions Guyana at the highest level of adherence to three out of the four tobacco control best buys, as outlined in the WHO Action Plan for the prevention and control of NCDS. The law also positions the country as one of the most advanced Caribbean countries in the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
Dr. Beatriz Champagne, United States
Dr. Champagne, Executive Director of the InterAmerican Heart Foundation, is being recognized for her long and fruitful career in advocacy, research and capacity development in the area of tobacco control. Of particular note is her leadership in the study of risk factors for cardiovascular health and strokes, which has been vital to ensuring improvements in tobacco control measures and the management of other cardiovascular risk factors in the region.
Dr. Eduardo Bianco, Uruguay
Dr. Bianco, Regional Coordinator for the Americas of the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA), is being recognized for his extensive and exemplary career in tobacco control, which has positioned him as a leading expert on the topic, both at the regional and global levels. His leadership and unwavering vocation have been crucial to ensuring advances in the implementation of the FCTC in the region over the past 15 years.
World No Tobacco Day
World No Tobacco Day was created by WHO Member States in 1987 and is commemorated each year on 31 May. The day aims to raise global awareness of the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes. This year, World No Tobacco Day will focus on calling attention to the impact of tobacco on cardiovascular health, and measures that governments and the general public can take to reduce the risks posed by tobacco consumption.
Tobacco control in the Americas
In the Region of the Americas, 30 countries have ratified the FCTC and various countries have made significant progress in the application of its provisions designed to reduce the use of tobacco and save lives. These include the implementation of smoking bans in public places and work spaces, and the inclusion of health warnings that are large and include images on tobacco product packaging and labelling. This year, the awards aim to recognize some of those responsible for these achievements while at the same time, encouraging further progress to ensure that the region advances more rapidly towards better tobacco control.
Previous recipients of the award in the region include the Peruvian Ministry of Finance and Economy, which passed a Presidential Decree in 2016 to increase the percentage of tax on tobacco products; the Department of Revenue in Ecuador for developing a system to better control the sale of tobacco products; and the intersectoral collaboration between the Colombian Ministry of Health and Social Protection, the Ministry of Finance, and Citizen Observers for Tobacco Control in Colombia, which led to the approval of a 100% increase in tax on tobacco products.