Press Releases

2004 Releases

Harvard School of Public Health Raises Alarm on Persistent Smoking Threat

For immediate release:  October 21, 2004

Boston, MA-- Harvard School of Public Health today called for a renewed national effort against a persistent smoking threat as prevention efforts are being dismantled.

The School will take the occasion of its annual Julius B. Richmond Award on Oct. 28, 2004 to confer its highest honor on three state attorneys general and on an advocate for children who successfully fought the biggest tobacco companies to reach the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998. The largest civil settlement in history, this agreement severely limited the tobacco industry's advertising, marketing and lobbying activities and required tobacco companies to pay states over $200 billion through 2025.

The School will also honor the scientist who established the link between passive smoke and lung cancer in non-smokers.

The Richmond Award ceremony, next Thursday, Oct. 28, 4:45 p.m., will be web cast [see on day of event]  The award recognizes those who carry forth the vision of former U.S. Surgeon General and current Harvard professor Julius B. Richmond, who provided innovative leadership to protect the most vulnerable populations and was the first national director of the Head Start Program.

"The tobacco settlement demonstrated the power of scientific evidence to enable dedicated public servants in government to achieve a major public health goal," said Barry R. Bloom, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). "Tobacco remains the biggest cause of preventable death both here in the United States and globally. We as a public health community and as a society must stand our ground against this threat."

"The Master Settlement Agreement represents a magnificent milestone, but our society cannot forfeit this legacy," said Howard Koh, former Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Health and now Associate Dean and Director of the Division of Public Health Practice at HSPH which confers the Richmond Award. "Thousands of new smokers are being recruited daily by the industry. We must renew our commitment to eliminating the catastrophe of tobacco addiction worldwide."

Among the Richmond honorees are former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore, who in 1994 filed the first lawsuit by a state against the tobacco companies. Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire and former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger played key national leadership roles. Matthew Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, played a pivotal advisory role. Ultimately, 46 states jointly settled lawsuits with the four largest tobacco companies, and four others settled separately.

Also receiving a Richmond Award is Dimitrios Trichopoulos, the Vincent L. Gregory Professor of Cancer Prevention at HSPH, who published a groundbreaking study demonstrating that passive smoke was associated with increased lung cancer risk in non-smokers.

The high profile settlement effort and the prevention programs the movement fueled contributed to a decline in smoking trends in the U.S  But recent fiscal crises have led state governments to use the tobacco settlement funds for other purposes; prevention efforts have been curtailed or dismantled entirely.

Though limited in some advertising spheres, the tobacco companies have found creative ways to reach new smokers and in particular have targeted children, minority groups and developing countries. Most recently the companies have come out with candy-flavored cigarettes in an undisguised attempt to attract ever younger smokers.

Tobacco use is the most significant cause of preventable death in the U.S. and the world, leading to cancer, emphysema, heart disease and other deadly chronic ailments. HSPH research has calculated that tobacco use causes 5 million premature deaths annually worldwide:

The Julius B. Richmond Award seeks to pay tribute to individuals who--like Dr. Richmond--have promoted and achieved high standards for public health conditions in vulnerable populations. Julius B. Richmond is the John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy Emeritus at Harvard. His pioneering vision and programmatic innovations have transformed the thinking, scope and understanding of public health practice. Dr. Richmond's career has been devoted to improving the health status of children, both domestically and internationally. He served as Assistant Secretary of Health under President Carter, was the U.S. Surgeon General form 1977-1981, and the first National Director of the Head Start Program.

For biographies of the Award recipients, see below.

2004 Julius B. Richmond Award Recipients

Dimitrios Trichopoulos While perhaps best known for his research establishing the link between passive smoking and lung cancer, this cancer epidemiologist has also shed light on a host of other health issues, including the role of the Mediterranean diet in decreasing cancer and heart disease risk and increasing longevity. His current main research interest is the evaluation of the hypothesis that hormone-dependent breast cancers have their origin in intrauterine life.

Mike Moore Now in private practice, Mike Moore began his over 20 years in public service as an Assistant District Attorney in 1977. He then became the states youngest elected District Attorney in 1979. First elected as Attorney General in 1987, he served four terms in that position. In 1994 he attracted national attention when he filed the first suit against 13 tobacco companies, making Mississippi the first state to insist that cigarette manufacturers reimburse the state for costs it incurred treating smoking-related illnesses.

Christine Gregoire Gregoire is the first woman to serve as Washington state Attorney General. She was first elected in 1992 and is serving her third term. She is currently running for governor of Washington. Gregoire was the lead negotiator for the states in the 1998 tobacco settlement and was the first Chair of the Board for the American Legacy Foundation, which was established and funded by the settlement to research and develop anti-smoking education programs nationwide.

Scott Harshbarger Now heading a corporate governance practice in Boston, Scott Harshbarger was Massachusetts Attorney General from 19911999, President of the National Association of Attorneys General in 19961997, and the Democratic nominee for governor of Massachusetts in 1998. Harshbarger went on to serve as the President and CEO of Common Cause in Washington, D.C., for three years, building partnerships and coalitions with business and grassroots organizations to push passage of the landmark federal campaign finance reform legislation commonly known as McCain-Feingold.

Matthew Myers Myers is President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a privately-funded organization established to focus the nations attention and action on reducing tobacco use among children. In Myers' previous role as Executive Vice President, he oversaw all of the Campaign's advocacy, outreach, and grassroots development efforts. Myers' legislative advocacy efforts were featured in The Giant Killers and Smoke in Their Eyes by Michael Pertschuk, former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Myers joined the Campaign after a 15-year partnership at a Washington, D.C. law firm where he specialized in complex commercial litigation, employment law, the Privacy Act, health law and First Amendment issues.

Past Recipients of the Julius B. Richmond Award

Katie Couric
NBC Today Show and Colorectal Cancer Screening Advocate

Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Dr. Marian Wright Edelman
Founder of the Children's Defense Fund

Dr. David A. Hamburg
Co-chair, Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict
(1994-1999) and
President Emeritus of the Carnegie Corporation

The late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere
Elder statesman and President of Tanzania (1962-1985)

Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders
Former U.S. Surgeon General

Donna Shalala
Former Secretary of Health and Human Services