Season 1, Episode 10

Ushering in a

Smoke Free World

Derek Yach is on a mission to create a healthier world. A doctor from South Africa who grew up during Apartheid, Derek was passionate about global health. He served as the Executive Director of Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health at the World Health Organization (WHO) and cabinet director under Director-General Gro Harlem Bruntland. During this time, Derek led the development of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the Global Strategy on Diet and Physical Activity. Since then, he has spent his life working to create a smoke free world. Nearly 3 decades since the treaty was signed in 161 countries – the first of its kind at the WHO – there are still 8 million deaths annually. Derek recognized that education and policy were simply not enough and would lead to significant negative outcomes for those whose livelihood depended on this crop. So he spearheaded the Foundation for a Smoke Free World to innovate around efforts to accelerate cessation, to help smallholder farmers find alternative sustainable crops, and to transform the industry. Along the way, he convinced big tobacco to give $1 billion dollars towards this effort. 

When I met him at Hopkins, he was one of the first to say that everyone needs to sit at the table if we’re actually going to make real change happen. Join us as we walk down his journey to erradicate this noncommunicable global health pandemic.

Creating a Smoke Free World

“We must assume we’re going to be successful. And if we’re successful at bringing smoking rates down, the people who are going to suffer are some of the most vulnerable farmers in the world, particularly those living in southern Africa. And we decided that one of our legs of our work would be to build a program in Malawi to start providing support to the country to lower it’s dependence on tobacco.”

Dr. Derek Yach

President, Foundation for a Smoke Free World

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Hosts & Guests

Jessica Houston

Dr. Derek Yach


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Smoke Free World

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