World No Tobacco Day 2021: awards for tobacco control in the WHO European Region


On 31 May, World No Tobacco Day 2021 focuses on creating networks of support and increasing access to services proven to help tobacco users quit successfully.

Each year, WHO presents awards to organizations and individuals who promote and enforce tobacco control in the Region. WHO carefully selects the awardees 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 offers an opportunity for WHO to recognize and commend these achievements while raising awareness and building support for tobacco-control measures globally. The World No Tobacco Day Awards 2021 include a WHO Director-General Special Recognition Award alongside 5 others.

WHO Director-General Special Recognition Award

The Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG) at the University of Bath, United Kingdom, is to be honoured with the WHO Director-General Special Recognition Award, 1 of 2 special recognitions to be given this year.

TCRG was selected in acknowledgement of its enormous contribution to tobacco control over the past decade. Research results and published evidence by TCRG have helped to change attitudes towards the tobacco industry and secure policy change nationally and globally.

For over 10 years, TCRG has worked relentlessly to expose industry attempts to weaken, block and delay tobacco-control measures. At the heart of its work is the innovative knowledge-exchange platform Tobacco Tactics, which instantly provides academically rigorous, accessible and policy-relevant research to those who need it. It is the go-to resource for tobacco industry insight, receiving hundreds of thousands of views each year.

TCRG uses a range of research methods, including big data, linguistic analysis and investigative techniques. This research has not only served to disrupt and expose industry activity, but has also contributed to a variety of policy changes. These range from the introduction of plain packaging in the United Kingdom to the development of the European Union Tobacco Products Directive to stronger worldwide implementation of Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

TCRG is part of Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP), a global tobacco industry watchdog. Through its capacity-building work, including briefings on COVID-19 and tobacco use, it supports global efforts to hold the industry to account and reduce its interference in tobacco-control activities. Its research underpins a policy environment that facilitates quitting tobacco and helps lessen the appalling harms of tobacco to health and society, saving millions of lives.

World No Tobacco Day Awards

The following 5 organizations and individuals from the WHO European Region are also being recognized for their outstanding contributions to the fight against tobacco use.

Mr Cornel Radu-Loghin, European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention (ENSP)

Mr Cornel Radu-Loghin is a tobacco-control advocate who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the policies and measures contained in the WHO FCTC and its guidelines, particularly in relation to the 2021 theme of World No Tobacco Day.

He originally initiated and currently coordinates the ENSP Tobacco Dependence Treatment Guidelines, first published in 2011, and the ENSP online training platform Accredited Curriculum on Tobacco Treatment. This programme trains health-care professionals in Europe in the latest evidence-based practices for helping patients to quit smoking.

Mr Radu-Loghin was also instrumental in expanding the ENSP network to eastern European countries, including Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine, to provide activists with constant professional support.

More recently, Mr Radu-Loghin launched “Ending tobacco epidemic – an essential step for beating cancer”, an initiative to highlight the importance of tobacco control in all aspects of cancer care. This comes in the context of the launch of United Action Against Cancer, a pan-European cancer movement, and the European Union’s Beating Cancer Plan.

Ministry of Health, Russian Federation

The Russian Ministry of Health has made outstanding efforts to strengthen national tobacco-control legislation with the aim of reducing associated morbidity and mortality. In 2013, the country passed Law 15 FZ, one of the most comprehensive anti-tobacco laws in the world. This approach to tobacco control has helped the Government to reduce the number of smokers by 21% and reduce tobacco sales by almost 30% in just 7 years, from 2009 to 2016.

In July 2020, the Ministry of Health put forward to the Federal Parliament an amendment to Law 15 FZ, broadening its scope to regulate not only tobacco but also nicotine-containing and heated tobacco products. In 2021, it presented and achieved a 20% increase in excise taxes on cigarettes and other nicotine-containing products.

Furthermore, over recent years the Ministry of Health has increased its provision of population-level approaches to quitting tobacco, such as brief interventions at the primary health-care level, a quitline and tobacco-cessation interventions. It has also supported the establishment of specialized cessation services.

German Network for Tobacco-Free Hospitals and Health-Care Services (DNRfK), Germany

DNRfK has made an important and well recognized contribution to tobacco prevention in Germany. It emerged from a model project funded by the Federal Ministry of Health, which in 2005 aimed to establish as many hospitals as possible as smoke-free institutions. Since that time, DNRfK has supported about 120 German hospitals and health-care services to implement international smoke-free standards.

Through the project “Smoke-free ticket”, DNRfK has also collaborated with the German Federal Centre for Health Education. As a result of this work, patients are now supported in their willingness to quit smoking through a direct referral to an evidence-based cessation consultation while still in hospital.

DNRfK is seen as a nationally valuable platform for the development of further tobacco-control programmes in health care. It was instrumental in the development of a programme to reduce tobacco use among nursing students and to integrate training in brief interventions as a standard part of nursing education.

Dr Müşerref Pervin Tuba Durgut, Vice President of the Health, Family, Labour and Social Affairs Commission of the Grand National Assembly, Turkey

Dr Durgut is a leading voice for tobacco control in Turkey and was influential in the passage of strong national obacco-control measures in 2019. These included an increase in tobacco taxation, with tax on cigarette packs raised from 13.2 to 16.2 Turkish lira, and the adoption of plain packaging despite aggressive opposition from the tobacco industry.

Moreover, Dr Durgut was instrumental in securing the first government-funded anti-industry campaign in Turkey, worth more than US$ 30 million. “Their gain, our loss,” ran on 160 television and 50 radio stations, and ranked second in an Ipsos’s survey of the most admired campaigns of 2019. It is Turkey’s most-watched public advertisement.

In 2019, Dr Durgut also established a web platform focused on monitoring the tactics of the tobacco industry with regard to children and youth, as well as on increasing compliance with a smoking ban in indoor areas and the implementation of other relevant tobacco-control measures.

Tobacco Control Unit (UCT) of the Catalan Institute of Oncology, Spain

UCT was created in 2000 as part of the Catalan Institute of Oncology. Its main objectives are to lower tobacco consumption and exposure to second-hand smoke and electronic cigarette aerosols through the development of research and evaluation tools. Its tools and online learning programmes are used to train European health sciences students in offering smoking-cessation help, and to improve the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of Spanish health professionals related to quitting smoking.

UCT is also responsible for initiatives such as the Catalan Smoke-Free Hospital Network, and health-promotion services including support to employees and patients of the Catalan Institute of Oncology to quit smoking. All of the projects developed at UCT directly impact tobacco prevention and control both at the Catalan Institute of Oncology and at national and international levels

Original source: WHO Europe news

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