Former President of Uruguay and oncologist, Dr. Tabaré Vázquez, died at age 80 from lung cancer on December 6, 2020. He became the first Socialist leader of Uruguay during his first presidency (2005-2010). Dr. Vázquez implemented some of the most stringent tobacco control measures in the world, which serve as a model for other countries. In 2006, he led Uruguay to become the first smoke-free nation in the Americas. He was awarded the World Health Organization Director-General’s Award later that same year and was later named Public Health Hero of the Americas by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). Dr. Vázquez established an international meeting in partnership with the Minister of Health of Argentina on tobacco control and implemented image-based warnings on tobacco products. In opposition of the warnings, Philip Morris tobacco company filed a complaint with the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, which later ruled against the company—a precedent-setting ruling.
Dr. Vázquez was Guest of Honor at the 17th IASLC World Conference on Lung Cancer in Vienna in 2016 and delivered the Keynote Lecture on the success of Tobacco Control in Uruguay.
“The organizers and the IASLC were greatly honored that President Vázquez participated at the World Conference,” remembered Dr. Robert Pirker, World Conference President in 2016. “His lecture was well received by both participants and public media. Personally, I was impressed by his strong commitment for improving global health through tobacco control and, even more, by his warm personality. May he rest in eternal peace.”