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President and Board Member
MBChB, MPH, DSc (Honoris Causa)
Dr. Derek Yach, a global health expert and anti-smoking advocate for more than 30 years, is the president of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. Throughout his career, he has supported and led smoking cessation research and policy development and has been a strong proponent of harm-reduction policies, calling for a greater emphasis on harm reduction as early as 2005. He is also a passionate advocate of health promotion and disease prevention and is advancing his career’s work at the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.
Dr. Yach is a former World Health Organization (WHO) cabinet director and executive director for noncommunicable diseases and mental health where he was deeply involved with the development of the world’s treaty on tobacco control, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. He is also the former chief health officer of the Vitality Group, executive director of the Vitality Institute, SVP global health and agriculture policy at PepsiCo, director of global health at the Rockefeller Foundation, and a professor of global health at Yale University. He has authored or co-authored more than 250 peer-reviewed articles on global health and has served on several advisory boards, including the World Economic Forum, Cornerstone Capital and the Wellcome Trust. From 2007 to 2016, he served on the program advisory committee of the Clinton Global Initiative.
Dr. Yach is a native of South Africa and has an honorary DSc from Georgetown University, MBChB from the University of Cape Town, BSc (Hons Epi) from the University of Stellenbosch, and an MPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Development of the Leading Tobacco Control Framework
While at World Health Organization, Dr. Yach was instrumental in the development of the organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control(FCTC), a set of universal standards stating the dangers of tobacco and limiting its use, sale, distribution and advertisement worldwide. The framework has become the world’s foremost treaty on tobacco control and has been ratified by almost 180 countries, more than 75% of which strengthened existing legislation or adopted new tobacco control policies. Since leaving the World Health Organization in 2004, Dr. Yach has continued to advocate for the improvement of the FCTC. He championed the ban of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in a Huffington Post blog for World No-Tobacco Day, and reflected on the current status and future impact of the FCTC in a 2014 Lancet article.
Commitment to Smoking Harm Reduction
Since the FCTC’s development, a range of new reduced-risk alternatives to smoking have been introduced to consumers that separate the nicotine from the tar. Dr. Yach believes these products can promote smoking cessation and reduce the risks of smoking. He has written about this topic extensively, authoring articles appearing in the Financial Times, The Spectator, LinkedIn, National Post and the Huffington Post.
Promoting Health and Preventing Disease
Dr. Yach is a passionate advocate for non-communicable disease prevention and health promotion and is a champion of increased incentives to help people exercise, eat nutritious meals and maintain a healthy weight. He recognizes that creating a smoke-free world will do much to prevent disease, add years to the lives of the global population, improve quality of life and increase economic production. In an article written for the journal Global Heart, he explains the need to create shared value between the public and private sectors, forming an ecosystem that incentivizes innovation in disease prevention – not just disease treatment. He further explained his thinking on health promotion and disease prevention during a presentation at TEDxMonteCarlo.