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Panama and Costa Rica's ministries of health and individuals from Canada and the United States are winners of the 2014 regional World No Tobacco Day awards

Washington, D.C., 28 May 2014 (PAHO/WHO) — The ministries of health of Panama and Costa Rica and four tobacco control experts from Canada and the United States will be honored with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) 2014 World No Tobacco Day awards at a special June 2 event where U.S. Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak will also speak.

Each year, World No Tobacco Day highlights the harmful effects of tobacco use and promotes public health measures that seek to reduce tobacco consumption and exposure to secondhand smoke. The focus of this year's campaign is tobacco taxation, which has proven highly effective in reducing tobacco use, especially among younger people.

PAHO/WHO will celebrate World No Tobacco Day 2014 on June 2, starting at 11:00 a.m. EDT. In addition to the awards presentation, the event will feature U.S. Surgeon General Lushniak describing progress in tobacco control during the 50 years since the first U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health was published (in 1964). Lushniak will also discuss new data on the health consequences of tobacco use that are presented in the most recent surgeon general's report.

World No Tobacco Day awards are given in all six WHO regions and at the global level. Below are the winners of the 2014 awards from the region of the Americas.

Global World No Tobacco Day Award

The Ministry of Health of Panama is the winner of the WHO Director-General's Special Recognition Award, for unprecedented leadership in promoting regional capacity-building for tobacco control in the Americas and for achievements in the area of tobacco taxation, the focus of the 2014 World No Tobacco Day campaign. Panama increased tobacco taxes in 2009 and has used the revenues to finance key tobacco control actions at the national and regional levels. At the national level, Panama financed the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) and the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) this year and used tobacco tax revenues to strengthen the ability of its customs agency to fight illicit trade. At the regional level, Panama hosted and financially supported the meetings of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in the Americas, thereby fulfilling its commitment under Article 22 (cooperation and sharing of expertise).

Regional World No Tobacco Day Awards

Professor Kenneth E. Warner, Avedis Donabedian Distinguished University Professor of Public Health at the University of Michigan, is being honored for his innovative and influential research contributions over recent decades, particularly on the economics of tobacco and tobacco control. Warner's seminal work in the 1970s on the impact of tobacco control policies in the United States demonstrated that higher cigarette taxes, anti-smoking advertising and restrictions on smoking led to significant reductions in cigarette consumption and smoking prevalence. His work has inspired a number of young economists to pursue careers in research on the economics of tobacco control.

Professor Frank Chaloupka, Professor at the Institute for Health Research of the University of Illinois at Chicago, is being honored for contributions to tobacco control that have been global in their breadth and unsurpassed in their magnitude. Chaloupka was a key contributor to the World Bank publication Curbing the epidemic - governments and the economics of tobacco control, and co-editor of its companion scholarly book Tobacco control policies in developing countries, a landmark publication in the field. Chaloupka's work with advocates, parliamentarians and policymakers has led to significant advances in the promotion and implementation of evidence-based approaches to tobacco control throughout the world.

Rob Cunningham, researcher and analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, is being honored for his contributions to tobacco control in Canada and around the world, since 1988. He has been a leader of advocacy efforts for a wide range of tobacco control measures at the municipal, provincial and national levels in Canada as well as internationally. His efforts led to Canada's becoming the first country in the world to introduce graphic health warnings on tobacco products (in 2000), the largest tobacco tax increase in Canadian history (in Alberta in 2002) and the adoption of bans on retail displays of tobacco products in every Canadian province.

Professor Prabhat Jha, Director of the Centre for Global Health Research and Professor of Disease Control at the University of Toronto, is being honored for his research on economics and epidemiology as well as his tireless efforts to ensure that research results are used appropriately by governments. His contributions in the area of tobacco taxation have been especially valuable. Over the past 20 years, he has conducted research in varied populations, from the United States to Bangladesh, and he remains a highly productive researcher.

The Ministry of Health of Costa Rica is being honored for its leadership of a five-year effort to pass comprehensive tobacco control legislation that incorporates several provisions of the WHO FCTC. The ministry's leadership provides an example for other countries of the Americas. In addition, Costa Rica has earmarked revenues to support regional activities including the 2014 Latin American and Caribbean Conference on Tobacco Control, which has been co-organized by a ministry of health for the first time.

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 serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO and is part of the Inter-American system.

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