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Public health professor wins WHO award

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognised Professor Mike Daube AO, Professor of Health Policy and Director of the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAIWA) and the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, for his extensive work against cigarettes and smoking. Professor Daube played a leading role in the landmark 2012 development when Australia became the first country to implement laws requiring plain packaging of tobacco products, and the WHO acknowledged his contribution on World No Tobacco Day with a Director-General’s Special Recognition certificate.

Plain packaging reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products. It kills the glamour, which is appropriate for a product that kills people,” said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan.

“It restricts tobacco advertising and promotion. It limits misleading packaging and labelling. And it increases the effectiveness of health warnings.”

The World Health Organisation has recognised Professor Mike Daube for his extensive work against cigarettes and smoking.
The World Health Organisation has recognised Professor Mike Daube for his extensive work against cigarettes and smoking.

While smoking in Australia has been declining for years, and the primary focus of plain packaging is preventing smoking in young people, an independent Post-Implementation Review carried out for the Australian Government found that even in the first three years plain packaging was responsible for a substantial additional component of the reduction in adult smoking alone.

Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) and Mental Health, said Australia’s plain packaging results demonstrate the great potential of the measure.

“Plain packaging can reduce consumption of tobacco products, as clearly seen in Australia. It offers a powerful tool to countries as part of a comprehensive approach to tackle the scourge of tobacco use,” Dr Chestnov said.

Since Australia introduced plain packaging, France, Ireland and the UK have passed similar laws and several other countries including Canada, New Zealand and Norway have announced their intentions to legislate.

Plain packaging is recommended in WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control  guidelines as part of a comprehensive approach to tobacco control that includes tax measures, large graphic health warnings and comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising and promotion.

This is the second WHO Tobacco Award for Professor Daube, who received his first WHO Medal in 1988.