Jonathan Samet, MD, MS, Distinguished Professor and holder of the Flora L. Thornton Chair in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of USC, has dedicated his career to the issue of tobacco use and regulation. That dedication has now been recognized on the world stage. Samet, who is also the director of the USC Institute for Global Health, was honored with the 2015 Luther L. Terry Award for Distinguished Career from the American Cancer Society. The award was presented at the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health, held in Abu Dhabi on March 19.

Named for the late United States Surgeon General Luther L. Terry, MD, whose work established the foundation for public understanding of the health dangers of tobacco use, the awards recognize outstanding worldwide achievement in the field of tobacco control.

“For more than three decades, my research has addressed the tobacco epidemic and how to control it, in the United States and globally,” said Samet. “I am deeply honored to receive an award from the American Cancer Society named after Luther Terry, the U.S. Surgeon General who released the landmark 1964 Surgeon General’s report on tobacco and health — the first in a series of 31 reports.”  Samet served as the senior scientific editor for the 50th anniversary report in 2014.

The Luther L. Terry Awards are presented in six categories: Outstanding Individual Leadership, Outstanding Organization, Outstanding Research Contribution, Exemplary Leadership by a Government Ministry, Distinguished Career, and Outstanding Community Service.
While Samet may have received this award for his “distinguished career,” that career is not over — he pays close attention to tobacco-related issues that still pose public health concerns.

“We have made great progress in the United States in controlling tobacco use — our state, California, has long been a leader,” said Samet. “But, there is much to do as the tobacco epidemic persists in many groups within the United States and threatens to grow in many lower-income countries. Of course, there is the new challenge of the explosive rising of electronic cigarettes.”

— Sara Reeve