Bloomberg Awards for Global Tobacco Control

Dr Margaret Chan
Director-General of the World Health Organization

Opening remarks at the Bloomberg Awards ceremony
15th World Conference on Tobacco or Health

22 March 2012

Ladies and gentlemen,

When tobacco industry internal documents were made public, I was pleased to see the World Health Organization singled out as the tobacco industry’s biggest enemy.

That is something to be proud of. It is motivating. Since then, we have done a great deal to improve this reputation.

We are not at all alone.

We have the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as a powerful instrument, supported by 174 parties. Countries worked hard to negotiate an uncompromising treaty. They rewrote the rules of engagement, actually combat, with the industry, giving the power back to governments, making health protection supreme.

Yet too many people are still becoming addicted to tobacco. For example, the US Surgeon General’s latest report reveals what she regards as a “shocking” number of youth who start and continue to smoke.

The MPOWER package gives countries practical and cost-effective ways, in the form of best and good buys, to immediately scale up implementation on the ground.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am most pleased to introduce Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use has been a game changer, a powerful catalyst of support, resources, and high-profile commitment to MPOWER as a driving force for tobacco control.

Today, we honour the people, governments and groups who have made the most of this opportunity. My congratulations to all of you.

Mayor Bloomberg is a great friend of public health, especially on the population-wide prevention side. He is my good personal friend.

But we have a small conflict. Michael is in direct competition with WHO to earn the distinction of being the tobacco industry’s biggest enemy.

Actually, there is plenty of space. The more top enemies, the better.

Industry deserves to have the very best enemies in the world. I welcome all of you to this most prestigious group.

Thank you.