Dr. Judith Mackay awarded the British Medical Journal Group's Lifetime Achievement Award..

April 13, 2009 - A Hong Kong anti-smoking campaigner who for a quarter of a century has been a thorn in the side of the tobacco industry in Asia was Sunday, April 12, 2009 celebrating a major international award for her crusading work. Dr Judith Mackay, labeled one of the three most dangerous people in the world in a leaked tobacco industry document in the 1980s, has received the British Medical Journal Group's first ever lifetime achievement award.

She topped a poll of 10 shortlisted candidates including world-famous heart surgeon Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, pioneering US kidney doctor Dr Robert William Shrier and Indian rural health campaigner Dr Hanumappa Sudarshan. The prestigious publication, which attracted more than 7,000 votes for its poll, praised Mackay for her "tireless and courageous campaigning on behalf of patients and public health." She has been fighting for tougher tobacco controls in Asia since 1984.

The award recognized her as "one of the first tobacco control advocates in Asia" and said she had played a "leading role" in advancing public policy, articulating the harms of tobacco and "exposing the nefarious tactics of the tobacco industry."

She was also instrumental in developing the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, hailedas "one of the most successful international treaties in public health," the award givers noted. World Health Organization consultant and World Lung Foundation advisor Mackay, whose solo mission to cut Asian smoking levels in the 1980s gradually gained international support and recognition, said she was "just overwhelmed" at the award.

Dr. MacKay: "When I started working in tobacco control in Asia in 1984, it was a lonely job, with no career structure and no pay. Few, if any, countries, had even a single person working full-time on tobacco control. I also faced the formidable opposition of the trans-national tobacco companies, who identified Asia as their future," she said. Mackay, 66, said there had since been a "sea-change in attitudes" towards the fight for stricter tobacco controls in the intervening years but made it clear she believes the battle is still far from won.

Related news brief: Third Edition Tobacco Atlas.. Dr. Mackay was the co-author of each edition of the Tobacco Atlas.

Reference: Anti-smoking campaigner is decorated for 25-year Asian crusade by DPA, Earth Times, 4/12/2009.