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Award Winners named for World No Tobacco Day in the Americas

Washington, D.C., May 30, 2006 (PAHO)—The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) is recognizing six individuals and organizations today from across the Americas for their contributions to reducing tobacco use.

PAHO's Special Page for World No Tobacco Day 2006

The PAHO/WHO World No Tobacco Day Awards are presented annually to individuals and institutions in the Americas that have demonstrated a long-term commitment and contribution to research, capacity building, promotion of policy or legislation, and advocacy, among other activities to advance tobacco control. The awards are given on World No-Tobacco Day, May 31, every year.

Among the six winners, Dr. Tabaré Vázquez, President of Uruguay, has been chosen to receive the prestigious WHO Director General's Award in recognition of his leadership on tobacco control in Uruguay, which has implemented some of the most progressive tobacco control measures in the world. The Director General's Award is given to only two recipients each year worldwide.

This year's winners are:

WHO Director General's Award (one of two awards worldwide)
Honorable Dr. Tabaré Vázquez, President, Oriental Republic of Uruguay

Uruguay has recently moved into the forefront of leaders in tobacco control in the Region of the Americas and in the world. From a country that just three years ago had very few public policies addressing tobacco, Uruguay has accomplished what many said could never be achieved in Latin America: it became smoke-free on March 1, 2006, the first country in the Americas to do. Just a month later, it began requiring all tobacco products sold in the country to carry one of eight hard-hitting, image-based health warnings on half of each of the main faces of the packaging. These messages are among the most innovative in the world. Many of them focus on the harm caused by secondhand smoke, reinforcing the new, successful smoke-free law.

President Tabaré Vázquez, an oncologist by training, has provided exceptional personal leadership in Uruguay's tobacco control initiatives in the face of strong tobacco industry opposition. He has actively promoted Uruguay's tobacco control policies in the media, worked to garner multi-party support in Congress for the measures and engaged civil society to actively educate and solicit support from the public. He has visited other countries in the MERCOSUR trading bloc to support the implementation of similar measures in those countries, for example inaugurating an international tobacco control meeting in Buenos Aires with the Minister of Health of Argentina. President Vázquez's personal efforts to achieve Uruguay's model policies have had and will continue to have a wide ranging impact on public health in Latin America.

WNTD 2006 Awardees (in alphabetical order)

Award recipients can be nominated by anyone, and are selected by a tobacco control team in WHO headquarters in Geneva.

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For more information please contact , PAHO, Public Information, 202-974-3459.