2018 Luther L. Terry Award Winners

This year’s Luther L. Terry awards were presented in three categories: Distinguished Career Award, Outstanding Leadership Award, and Young Pioneer Award. These awards recognize outstanding worldwide achievement in the field of tobacco control and were presented during a special ceremony on Thursday, March 8, 2018, at the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Cape Town, South Africa.

Three people wearing award medallions on a stage

2018 Luther L. Terry Award winners: Dr. Bettcher, Prof. Elif Dagli, and Prof. Vardavas

Photo courtesy: Photo©Marcus Rose/The Union

Distinguished Career Award

Dr. Douglas William Bettcher, MD, MPH, Ph.D. (Canada) is the director of the Department for the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, World Health Organization. He was previously the director of the Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) Department, WHO, which has now become an integral program within the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases (PND) Department. In addition, he sits on the editorial board of the scientific journal Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

Dr. Bettcher has written widely on several topics and has led the development of numerous flagship global publications in the area of tobacco control. These are highly relevant to policymakers and researchers alike and have become part of the legacy of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) negotiation process. He has international and country-level experience in tobacco control. During the negotiation of the WHO FCTC, he held the position of coordinator of the WHO FCTC team, Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) Department at WHO. The team was WHO’s principal focal point for providing technical support for the negotiation of the Convention. Dr. Bettcher has demonstrated his determination and commitment to keep tobacco control and the implementation of the WHO FCTC at the forefront of the global NCD agenda. He has also supported innovative technologies for NCD prevention, specifically for tobacco control. He was one of the founders of the Be He@lthy Be Mobile initiative, in collaboration with the International Telecommunications Union, where he promotes the use of scaled digital technology for tobacco cessation. Dr. Douglas Bettcher is widely recognized as one of the key contributors to the negotiations for the WHO FCTC and is recognized as a thought leader in tobacco control, and his work has contributed directly to significant reductions in tobacco use worldwide saving millions of lives.

Outstanding Leadership Award

Professor Elif Dagli (Turkey) is an advocate and physician who has worked in tobacco control since the 1980s. She has been a member of the Tobacco Prevention Section of the Union since 1991 and is currently working as an officer. Professor Dagli was founding chair of the Tobacco or Health working group at the Turkish Thoracic Society in 1992 and was instrumental in the establishment of an NGO coalition on Tobacco or Health in 1995. From 2011 to 2014, she served as a board member of the Framework Convention Alliance and represented the European Region. In 2014, Professor Dagli became a board member of INWAT Europe and strongly believes in the importance of addressing tobacco use in all forms among women and young girls by a gender-specific method.

Professor Dagli’s involvement in tobacco control and leadership role has been crucial in Turkey. As an advocate, she has been involved with the first tobacco control legislation, protection of tobacco advertising ban, implementation of smoke-free legislation, and stopping tobacco industry interference. She promoted FCTC ratification through chest physicians of European countries and led Turkey to be among the first group of countries to ratify the FCTC.

One of Professor Dagli’s goals during her career has been to increase awareness among health professionals on the importance of prevention of tobacco-related diseases and to persuade these professionals to be involved in the creation of tobacco control policy. In 2004, she started country-wide tobacco control courses under the umbrella of the Turkish Thoracic Society to increase awareness among respiratory physicians on prevention of tobacco-related diseases. Professor Dagli also developed a problem-oriented teaching module for medical schools in which the module mimics real-life obstacles of a tobacco control advocate including difficult policymakers and the tobacco industry. She has been instrumental in advocating for tobacco control legislation, become an influential leader in the field, and raised a new generation of tobacco control experts. 

Young Pioneer Award

Professor Constantine Vardavas, MD, RN, MPH, Ph.D., FCCP (Greece) has a clinical background with degrees in medicine and nursing, and has paired this with postgraduate training in tobacco control (MPH, Ph.D.). He is currently associate director of the Institute of Public Health of the American College of Greece, director of EU scientific relations of the European Respiratory Society, and adjunct associate professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic in the United States.

Following his studies, Dr. Vardavas was appointed senior research scientist at the Center for Global Tobacco Control at the Harvard School of Public Health. Upon returning to Europe, Dr. Vardavas has worked as a principal investigator on multiple projects totaling more than 10 million USD in competitive funding. These grants have primarily centered around providing scientific evidence to support the implementation of the European Tobacco Products Directive, legislation that covers more than half a billion citizens of the European Union. He is currently responsible for several projects, including the identification of the characterizing flavors in tobacco products across the European Union and a large Horizon2020 project (EUREST-PLUS) to evaluate the population impact of the EU Directive. He is also associate coordinator of the EU Joint Action on Tobacco Control, a project to harmonize tobacco control efforts across 32 European countries and the first approach to analyzing big data in Tobacco Control.

As an author, Dr. Vardavas has published more than 150 articles primarily on tobacco control and is among the highest cited young researchers in the field with more than 5,000 citations in Google Scholar. Between 2012-2017 he was co-editor-in-chief of the journal Tobacco Induced Diseases.

Dr. Vardavas is recognized as an emerging leader who champions bringing groundbreaking ideas and innovation to tobacco control through building synergies, providing younger generation researchers opportunities to engage in tobacco control, and enabling direct connection with grassroots tobacco control activities.