The University of Bath’s Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG) has been recognised for its work by the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), as part of the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) Awards 2021.

World No Tobacco Day 2021

The awards honour those who have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the policies and measures contained in the world’s first global health treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and its guidelines, particularly in relation to the theme of World No Tobacco Day, which in 2021 is Commit to Quit. TCRG has received a prestigious Special Recognition Award from the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Researching tobacco industry tactics

TCRG was nominated by the Smoke Free Partnership, supported by the World Heart Federation, and was also nominated by the European Respiratory Society. The nomination was based on TCRG's work of over a decade in helping to change attitudes towards the tobacco industry and secure policy change nationally and globally. Under the leadership of Professor Anna Gilmore, TCRG has worked relentlessly to expose industry attempts to weaken, block and delay tobacco control measures. In addition to its academic research outputs, TCRG incorporates the innovative knowledge-exchange platform Tobacco Tactics, which is the ‘go to’ resource for tobacco industry insight, receiving hundreds of thousands of views each year.

In 2019, TCRG was announced as one of the partners in STOP, a global tobacco industry watchdog, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, whose mission is to expose the tobacco industry strategies and tactics that undermine public health.

On learning of the award, Professor Gilmore said:

It is a huge privilege to receive this special recognition award from the World Health Organization and the Director-General. We are all at TCRG enormously grateful to the WHO, to those who made and supported our nomination, as well as to those who have funded our research over many years. The research we produce is truly a joint effort, and this award reflects the hard work and dedication of the whole team. We are also extremely fortunate to be part of a wider community of other academics, NGOs, advocates and policy makers, who share in our efforts and who are all working towards the same goal of improved public health. Through the work of TCRG and in partnership with others, we seek to produce research with impact and to enable a policy agenda which reduces smoking.

Professor Ian White, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bath said:

It is a great honour for the Tobacco Control Research Group, and the University of Bath, to receive this award from the World Health Organization. For over ten years now, TCRG’s prolific research on tobacco control has had real impact, contributing to a global effort to protect public health against the harms of tobacco. For this work, and its recognition by the WHO, I offer the whole TCRG team my warmest congratulations.

Award ceremony

The presentation of the award took place in an online ceremony on 8 June 2021, organised by The Smoke Free Partnership and the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention with the support of the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. The award was made to Professor Gilmore, who also took part in a discussion as part of the event, which covered the reaction of the tobacco industry to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the actions needed by governments to support the reduction of tobacco use.

Presenting the award, Dr Carina Borges, Head of WHO European Office for Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases commented that TCRG's research efforts 'had been critical and crucial to some of the most important policy changes' in tobacco control.

As the TCRG team couldn't be there in person to receive the award, they created a video to say thank you to WHO and the Director-General, as well as those who nominated them and supported the nomination, and all their colleagues, partners and funders.