Dr Raouf Alebshehy is the recipient of an award as part of the WHO World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) Awards 2024. This award is the highest recognition bestowed by WHO for efforts in tobacco control. The award is testament to Dr Alebshehy’s near decade of work in the field and his highly respected position.

At the University of Bath, Dr Alebshehy is managing editor of Tobacco Tactics, a knowledge exchange platform with essential information about the tobacco industry, its tactics and those interacting or having connection with it. A key part of the work of the Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG), the tobaccotactics.org platform aims to provide up-to-date information. It has become the global tobacco control community’s go-to website to remain informed and updated.

Dr Alebshehy also leads in the delivery of the University’s Tobacco Industry Monitoring Research and Accountability course (TIMRA), annually building capacity of around 50 tobacco control advocates from around the world including many participants from Low- or Middle-Income Countries (LMICs).

Prior to joining the Tobacco Control Research Group, Dr. Alebshehy worked with the Egyptian Ministry of Health in his home country, then in international public health policy, including with the World Health Organization and the Convention Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. His work involved planning, managing, monitoring, and evaluating health programs in fields of communicable diseases, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), health systems development, health promotion, and quality management. Dr. Alebshehy also has field experience as a primary healthcare physician and has coordinated health projects with the public sector, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and UN agencies.

On learning of the award, Professor Anna Gilmore, Director of TCRG, said:

I am delighted to see Dr. Raouf Alebshehy being awarded for his dedication to and continuous hard work in tobacco control over many years. His work in Bath is just the latest chapter and plays a vital role in helping hold the tobacco industry to account and building capacity globally in addressing tobacco industry interference. His work and this year’s WNTD draws attention to the fact that, despite the tobacco industry’s claims to have transformed, it continues to target young people. The escalating levels of youth vaping illustrate this. The tobacco industry simply sees young people as essential to its long-term survival and governments must act urgently to protect them.

Dr Alebshehy’s nomination for the award was supported by his peers within the tobacco control community. The award is an acknowledgement of his achievements, which include tobacco control research and advocacy and engaging with media, policy makers and parliamentarians in pursuit of protecting public health.

In support of Dr. Alebshehy’s nomination, Sheila Duffy, CEO of ASH Scotland, said:

I believe that Dr Alebshehy’s work makes a strong contribution to creating an environment to protect children and young people from the predatory, profit driven producers of health-harming and addictive products, and I strongly support the nomination in recognition of his work.

Dr Alebshehy’s award is part of the 2024 WHO (WNTD) Awards. Since 1987, 31 May has been designated as World No Tobacco Day. This yearly celebration aims to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes. It is also to inform the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies and what the public can do to claim their right to healthy living and to protect future generations. The theme of WNTD 2024 is Protecting Children from Tobacco Industry Interference.

Dr Alebshehy’s work has been recognised through awards such as the University of Bath’s Recognising Excellence Award in 2022 and 2023; the Vice-Chancellor's Engage Awards for Public Engagement in 2023 and the John Griffith Prize of University of Leeds in 2016.

This is the fourth WNTD accolade to be awarded to TCRG and its members. In 2021, the team, of which Dr. Alebshehy was a member, received a prestigious Special Recognition Award from the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for outstanding contributions. Dr Mateusz Zatoński was awarded a posthumous honour for his contribution to tobacco control efforts in Europe and globally in 2022. Professor Gilmore also won an award in 2008 for her work.

Dr Alebshehy received his award in a ceremony on Monday 27 May in Copenhagen, Denmark. During the ceremony Dr. Alebshehy presented on how the tobacco industry creates the environment to hook young consumers.

Dr Alebshehy comments:

It is a profound honour to receive this award. Highlighting the harms of the tobacco industry is key to protecting public health and I am delighted that my work in this area and generally in tobacco control has been acknowledged.

I would like to thank all who supported my nomination for this award, my family, and my colleagues within the University of Bath and throughout the tobacco control community for their support. As I accept this award, I am reminded of the brave colleagues who have made profound sacrifices on the frontlines of healthcare, particularly in Gaza. Their courage and dedication serve as an enduring inspiration as we continue our collective fight against the tobacco pandemic.