Jul. 1 1999
Washington, DC - Washington Governor Gary Locke received the Mike Synar Memorial Public Service Award at a ceremony in Olympia today in honor of his leadership and commitment to protecting the children of the state of Washington from tobacco and for the standard he has set for the nation. With this prestigious award, he joins an exclusive group of previous recipients that include President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and the late Florida Governor Lawton Chiles. The Synar Award, presented by the Washington, DC-based CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS along with its 25 national partners, is given annually to an outstanding American who has demonstrated a special commitment to protecting the public’s health from the deadly effects of tobacco. The Washington Alliance for Tobacco Control and Children’s Health (WATCH) and Friends of the Basic Health Plan, both state coalitions representing more than 20 organizations, also presented the award to Governor Locke. Locke provided the critical leadership to enable Washington to become a nationwide leader in the effort to reduce tobacco use, particularly among children. He proposed and then actively worked to secure $100 million -- nearly one-third of Washington’s first two payments of $323 million -- from the landmark settlement with the tobacco industry to set up a Tobacco Control Account to fund a statewide comprehensive tobacco prevention program. In years to come, more of Washington’s $4.02 billion total share may be added to the fund. As a bonus, Locke can also claim that Washington is the only state of the 46 that settled that has agreed to spend 100 percent of its first payments on public health programs. “I am pleased and proud to receive this award on behalf of all of the people of Washington. Our goal is to make the current generation of smokers in Washington the last generation of smokers in our state,” Governor Locke said. “We commend Governor Locke for his important efforts to protect the children of Washington from tobacco,” said CAMPAIGN Executive Vice President and General Counsel Matthew L. Myers. “Under his leadership, Washington has kept its promise to its children to use the funds to develop and implement an effective program to prevent the next generation from becoming addicted to tobacco. Governor Locke has set an example and a standard for the country.” The late Mike Synar, for whom the award was named, was a U.S. Congressman who represented Oklahoma from 1979 to 1994. Long before others took on Big Tobacco, Synar was a leader in the fight against tobacco, and demonstrated great personal integrity as a member of Congress. Locke, the fourth Synar Award recipient, received his award today at an afternoon reception at the Group Health Cooperative’s Olympia Clinic in Olympia.