After 22 years at the helm of the Public Health Law Center, Executive Director Doug Blanke announced his retirement, effective June 30. Doug’s accomplishments in public health policy, legislative advocacy and consumer protection span four decades at the local, state and national levels. , and international stages.
A former Minnesota assistant attorney general, Doug played a key role in the historic ligation against the tobacco industry in the 1990s, culminating in the release of seminal internal documents that revealed the long history of marketing, advertising and research. tobacco industry deceivers. In 2000, Doug founded what is now the Public Health Law Center at Mitchell Hamline Law School. From a one-man law and policy think tank on commercial tobacco control issues, the Center has grown under Doug’s leadership to become a national organization of more than 30 public health lawyers, policies and support staff who help community leaders strengthen public health laws and health equity.
Today, the Public Health Law Center is the nation’s leading source of legal technical assistance on commercial tobacco control and assists tribal, federal, state, and local health advocates and policy makers in dozens of tobacco policy areas. health, ranging from supporting access to healthy food, to expanding active transportation policies, to incorporating environmental justice into health policies. The Center’s work to eliminate menthol in commercial tobacco products, in partnership with black-led organizations over the past decade, played a role in the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to United in April 2021 to eliminate menthol in cigarettes, and illustrates the Center’s desire to impact national policy.
“The national fight to remove menthol tobacco products from the American market owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Doug Blanke and the Public Health Law Center. It was the Center that convened the national strategy sessions, “listening to and valuing” all the voices around the table. Before ‘fairness’ became a buzzword, they asked us to partner, support and champion this cause,” said Carol McGruder, co-chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. “We thank Doug Blanke and the Center for their steadfast partnership with us in saving black lives!”
“From the fight against Big Tobacco to the fight against racism as a public health crisis, Doug’s legacy lies in the evolution of public health law, in the integration of racial and health equity in how and why we advocate for healthy communities,” said Vayong Moua, director, Health Equity Advocacy, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Minnesota Center for Prevention.
“Doug has made extraordinary contributions to public health and tobacco control over a long and illustrious career,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products. “What impressed me so much over the decades that I have known Doug is his strong commitment to using the tools of the law to advance public health and social justice. We will miss him.”
Doug’s visionary leadership in public health policy extended internationally when he helped draft the global guidelines for tobacco regulation, adopted as the world’s first public health treaty, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. He also edited the World Health Organization’s handbook on tobacco control legislation.
“Doug has made giant contributions to eliminating tobacco-caused death and disease that will continue to spread in the United States and around the world,” said Tim McAfee, former director of the Office on Tobacco and Health. from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “What I loved about working with Doug was that he brought a strong sense of goodwill to cross-organizational work, communicating a sense that we were all in this together.”
In 2004, the American Lung Association presented him with its C. Everett Koop “Unsung Hero” Award for his contributions to tobacco control. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), of which he has been a member since 2007.
“Doug Blanke has done more than anyone to advance tobacco control behind the scenes. Countless policies across the country and around the world are more effective and more legally defensible because of his sage advice,” said Micah Berman, associate professor of public health and law at Ohio State University. “To me and many others in the field of public health, he has been a role model, a mentor, a friend and a beacon of moral clarity.”
A nationwide search is currently underway to select the next CEO of the Public Health Law Center.
This article first appeared on Public Health Law Center website.