World Heart Federation
Return to index


Professor Judith MacKay, who has been a champion and pioneer in International Tobacco Control and a preventive approach to health, is the winner of the first BMJ Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to the fight against tobacco across the world and her “tireless and courageous campaigning on behalf of patients and public health care.” The inaugural BMJ Group Awards ceremony took place on 2 April 2009, in London, and recognised individuals, organisations and initiatives that have demonstrated outstanding and measurable contributions to healthcare.

Professor Mackay was instrumental in developing the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which places governments under international obligation to implement tobacco control policies and has been ratified by 162 countries. Currently she works for the World Lung Foundation component of the Bloomberg Initiative to reduce tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries.

Speaking after the ceremony, Professor Mackay said: “Public health has always been the poor relation to curative medicine when it comes to funding and recognition. This award is therefore a great acknowledgment of the importance of public health in general, and tobacco control in particular. I think my biggest contribution has been motivating and supporting others, moving tobacco control in low-income countries from the very lonely job of a quarter of a century ago to one today involving hundreds of people.”

Professor Mackay was a lone voice when she started campaigning against the tobacco industry in Asia in 1984. The impact of her activities was illustrated by her being labelled “one of the three most dangerous people in the world” by the industry only five years later and being voted one of Time magazine's “60 Asian Heroes” in 2006.

Since becoming a full time public health advocate in 1984, Professor Mackay has worked with most of the governments in the Western Pacific to help them establish national tobacco control legislation and taxation policies. Much of her work has been with China.

Learn more about the awards

top of the page