Thursday, 16 January 2020

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada pays tribute to Rob Cunningham

From the remarks of Dr. David Esdaile, vice-president of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada at an gathering of tobacco-control researchers, regulators and advocates at event in Ottawa on January 16, 2020.

"Next week is National Non Smoking Week, an appropriate time to acknowledge with gratitude the leadership of those who have and who continue to push forward for better ways to manage the tobacco problem. I would like to take a minute to honour a couple of local Canadian tobacco control heroes.

One of those great Canadian leaders in tobacco control is and was Dr. Norman C. Delarue. He is remembered and honoured for his research on tobacco use, his tireless efforts to convince health charities, medical organizations, church groups and politicians to work together, his promotion of new regulatory measures that should be put in place, and his lifelong commitment tobacco control.

Dr. Delarue was the Canadian thoracic surgeon who completed the first statistically valid research project that linked cigarettes with lung cancer in 1947. In the 1960s and 1970s it was Dr. Delarue who was at the forefront pushing and pulling Canadians and their governments into responding to this newly-understood health crisis with effective and essential policies and programs.

To honour Dr. Delarue, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada occasionally presents an award in his name to other Canadians to whom we are similarly indebted. Tonight, we would like to make this very long-overdue recognition to Rob Cunningham, of the Canadian Cancer Society.

For a quarter century now, Rob Cunningham has been at the forefront of tobacco control efforts in Canada and beyond. He has been a prolific generator of ideas, a steady presence before legislative committees and the media, a voice for reform, an advocate in court, a one-stop-shopping resource for information and advice to local, provincial and federal community groups and governments, a writer, a compiler of evidence, an historian, an institutional memory, a daily news agent. He is the go-to-guy to whom we all go.

It gives me great pleasure, on behalf of the board of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, to present the Dr. Norman C. Delarue award to Rob Cunningham. We thank him for all he has done and continues to do to reduce the toll from tobacco use."