World No Tobacco Day 2022: Awards for Tobacco Control in the WHO European Region

On May 31, World No Tobacco Day 2022 focuses on how tobacco throughout its life cycle pollutes the environment in which we live and harms people’s health.

Each year, the World Health Organization presents awards to organizations and individuals who promote and implement tobacco control in the Region. WHO carefully selects recipients in recognition of their long-term commitment and outstanding contribution to research, advocacy, health promotion and capacity building in these areas.

World No Tobacco Day provides an opportunity for WHO to recognize these achievements while raising awareness and building support for tobacco control measures globally. The following six organizations and individuals from the Region have been commended for their outstanding contributions to tobacco control.

National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), Georgia

The National Center for Disease Control and Prevention is a major institution in Georgia working on tobacco control policy making, monitoring, awareness raising and capacity building. He has been the co-author and strong supporter of the country’s tobacco control law, which went into effect on May 1, 2018. The National Center for Disease Control and Prevention is also working to increase the availability of smoking cessation services, and has successfully established a free 7-day-a-week quit line.

The National Center for Disease Control and Prevention is the first institution in Georgia to direct its efforts toward addressing the impact of tobacco on the environment, including through the creation of a special unit dedicated to this topic under the National Health Promotion Program in 2018. It has been implemented. Undertake several activities in this area, including a clean-up event to raise awareness of cigarette butts as a contaminant, awareness visits to schools, and the development of a policy option to mark packaging of filtered tobacco products as single-use plastic products.

Ms. Ainuru Altibayeva, President of the General Assembly “Ayaldar Kenesh” (Women’s Council), Kyrgyzstan

During her work in Parliament from 2015 to 2021, Ms. Ainuru Altibayeva collaborated closely with the Ministry of Health and advocated strongly for public health initiatives aimed at reducing tobacco use in the country. It has been instrumental in countering powerful lobbyists and opposition in the tobacco industry, and in promoting public health interests through public debates, round tables, and conferences.

It should be noted that Ms. Altybaeva led a group of Members of Parliament in the development of a strong tobacco control law (No. 121), which was vigorously debated for more than 3 years in both Parliament and the media before its adoption on September 15, 2021. The adoption of the law by national partners is considered And the internationals a major victory for tobacco control in Kyrgyzstan.

Nofumadores.org, Spain

Nofumadores.org is a non-governmental organization dedicated to protecting the rights of non-smokers and educating residents and politicians about tobacco control. The organization has been operating since 2004 with minimal financial resources, but with the great dedication, enthusiasm and altruism of its board of directors, it was able to become one of the main players in the anti-tobacco movement in Spain.

Her campaign to collect signatures in support of smoke-free beaches is among her most notable environmental actions. The petition, signed by more than 330,000 people and organizations, was submitted to both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Environmental Transformation. This ensures that Spain’s new waste law, adopted on April 4, 2022, includes a provision authorizing local councils to impose fines of up to 2,000 euros for smoking on beaches. Since Nofumadores.org began its campaign in 2018, the number of smoke-free beaches in Spain has doubled by 6, to 525.

Moreover, in 2021, Nofumadores.org led a campaign that gathered the support of 151 organizations from around the world to urge the municipality of La Graciosa Island to break the agreement it had signed with a large tobacco company. The company used the island to wash its image while encouraging a switch to hot tobacco products.

Nofumadores.org continues to engage and work with Spanish lawmakers to advance the agenda for a tobacco and nicotine-free future using the Endgame Declaration for Spain 2030 as a master roadmap.

Mr. Hans Stöckli, Member and former President of the Council of States (Senate of the Swiss Federal Assembly), Switzerland

Mr. Hans Stöckli started the Tobacco Free Kids initiative to ban tobacco advertising targeting minors in Switzerland. In his role as Chair of the Initiative Committee, he has efficiently coordinated the broad coalition of health organizations supporting it. His willpower, motivation, and political knowledge helped the initiative gain momentum and eventually collect more than 100,000 signatures in favor of putting it to a popular vote. After a difficult campaign in which opponents received significant support from the tobacco industry, the initiative won the popular vote on February 13, 2022.

The outstanding commitment of Mr. Stöckli is a strong example of leadership in the country’s tobacco control movement, and the successful campaign is a historic step forward in tobacco prevention and health promotion in Switzerland.

Ms. Lada Polakh, Member of Parliament, Ukraine

Mrs. Lada Polakh, one of the leaders of the anti-tobacco movement in the Verkhovna Rada, is the primary author of Anti-Tobacco Law No. 1978-IX, which she has advocated for almost two years. The law was adopted in December 2021 and entered into force in January 2022. It introduces European requirements to protect the population from tobacco harms in accordance with the European Union (EU) Directive 2014/40/EU and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), and regulates heated tobacco products. and electronic nicotine delivery systems similar to tobacco products.

Ms. Polach also actively participated in the Committee on Public Health, Medicaid and Medical Insurance of the Verkhovna Rada. Her commitment, motivation, and strong support for public health initiatives have enabled her to resist fierce opposition from the tobacco industry while creating a political environment that has allowed Ukraine to strengthen its tobacco control legislation for the first time in 9 years. These achievements will further protect young people from the harms of tobacco and nicotine products.

Posthumous Recognition – Dr. Mateusz Zatonsky, Research Fellow, Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG), University of Bath, UK

Dr. Mateusz Zatonsky, who died in January 2022 at the age of 34, was a gifted academic whose research in politics has made a remarkable impact. As a TCRG Research Fellow at the University of Bath, he led the team researching the tobacco industry’s impact on national and global politics, and developed ways to address this. His work on the UK Tobacco Industry Interference Index has sparked political debates in the devolved states.

Dr. Zatonsky’s passion for the social and political history of Eastern Europe, and his work with institutions in Poland and other European Union countries, brought a broad European perspective to his research. His work has had significant impacts across Europe through the TCRG and through the STOP and International Tobacco Control Projects (ITC).

Dr Zatoński has worked to de-normalize the tobacco industry by exposing its efforts to undermine menthol legislation and circumventing the ban on menthol flavoring in the European Union, by highlighting the dangers of new flavored products, especially to young people, and by showing how the industry has attempted to harness the COVID-19 pandemic for its own ends. . Despite his death, his work will continue to support tobacco control efforts in Europe and inform reviews of legislation.