Dr. Howard Koh Has Re-Energized Nation’s Fight Against Tobacco

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Jul. 3 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – As he steps down as Assistant Secretary for Health, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids thanks and applauds Dr. Howard Koh for spearheading the Obama Administration’s efforts to reinvigorate the fight against tobacco use, the nation’s number one cause of preventable death.  His legacy is the renewed progress our nation is making in reducing smoking among both youth and adults.

No Assistant Secretary for Health has ever done more or made tobacco a higher priority than Dr. Koh.  He worked tirelessly both to coordinate all of the Department of Health and Human Services’ tobacco prevention and cessation efforts and to make sure that tobacco remained a top priority for the Obama Administration.

During his five-year tenure at HHS, Dr. Koh has led the Administration’s multi-pronged efforts to accelerate progress against tobacco.  He was a driving force behind the first-ever federal Tobacco Control Strategic Action Plan, which set the goal of ending the tobacco epidemic. 

Dr. Koh has been a champion for ensuring that the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that private health plans provide coverage for tobacco cessation treatments becomes a reality and has worked to expand tobacco cessation treatment through Medicaid. He has been a tireless spokesman keeping the tobacco problem in the public eye, framed as an urgent public health crisis that can be solved if we fully implement what we know works.

Under Dr. Koh’s leadership, the Department of Health and Human Services has also led by example, expanding its smoke-free policy to prohibit the use of any tobacco product at all of its facilities.  Dr Koh has also led the HHS effort to support the adoption of tobacco-free policies by colleges and universities.

Dr. Koh has been a leader in tobacco control for more than 20 years. During his earlier tenure as Massachusetts' Commissioner of Public Health, Dr. Koh led the state's pioneering Tobacco Control Program, which dramatically reduced tobacco use and became a model for other states, the nation and the world.

The nation owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. Koh.  He has contributed immeasurably to improving the health of all Americans, and especially of young people.  We look forward to continuing to work with him to end the tobacco epidemic for good. 

 

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