Tobacco Info

From Tobacco Info No. 2 - September 2010
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Tobacco control health heroes honoured


The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) honoured three members of the tobacco control community for their long-standing and relentless contributions to public health.


In Toronto, on June 15, during the Dinner Gala of the CPHA’s Centennial Conference, Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, Louis Gauvin, former head of the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control, and Garfield Mahood, executive director of the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association, were honoured with a National Public Health Hero Award.


Rob Cunningham


Cunningham, a lawyer by profession, was born and raised in Ottawa and has degrees in political science (BA, University of Western Ontario), law (LLB, University of Toronto) and business (MBA, University of Western Ontario).


He first became active in tobacco issues in 1988-90, while in university, when he became the founding president of the Student Movement Aimed at Restricting Tobacco.


Rob Cunningham has worked as a consultant for provincial, national and international health organizations including the World Health Organization. His regular email bulletins to those working in tobacco control have become legendary, and he has become a recognized expert in the field of tobacco control.


As one of the core group of Canadian activists fighting for tobacco control, Cunningham has testified before parliamentary committees, given hundreds of media interviews in Canada and abroad, published numerous tobacco-related articles and initiated private prosecutions for violations of tobacco-control laws.


He is the author of Smoke & Mirrors: The Canadian Tobacco War, which has been a top seller among the International Development Research Centre’s publications and is a regular and popular presenter at national and international health conferences.


Louis Gauvin


For over 20 years, Louis Gauvin has been working to help society cut down on tobacco use. As part of his job with the Public Health Department of Montérégie, outside Montreal, he helped smokers quit, set up prevention programs in schools and acted as a consultant for businesses implementing policies on tobacco use.


In 1996, the Association pour la santé publique du Québec (ASPQ) created the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control, an initiative spearheaded by Gauvin and Heidi Rathjen following a drastic cut in cigarette taxes. Launched officially in June 1996 and sponsored by the ASPQ, the Coalition now includes thousands of health care organizations and professionals from all areas of Quebec.


For 14 years, until he retired in September 2009, Gauvin acted as spokesperson for the Coalition, representing the Quebec anti-tobacco movement in a dignified, calm and reasoned – at times even humorous – manner.


Gauvin’s vision and determination have contributed to prolonging lives and improving the quality of life of thousands of Quebecers.


Garfield Mahood


Garfield (Gar) Mahood began his professional career in sales, winning numerous national sales awards. During this time, he started taking a serious interest in public issues. In the late 1960s, Mahood decided to work professionally on public issues and returned to university to study political science, sociology and social change.


Upon graduation from York University, he assumed the position of executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association. Three years later, in 1975, he joined the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association (NSRA). Since then, he has built the NSRA into one of the leading tobacco control organizations in the world. He has given countless presentations in Canada and internationally, including addressing eight world conferences on tobacco control, and has participated in numerous international strategy sessions.


Mahood was a member of the editorial advisory board of Tobacco Control, published by the British Medical Journal, for many years. He is also the author of an expert report on labelling and packaging prepared for the World Health Organization in 2003.


– by Joe Strizzi
written with files from the CPHA