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Tobacco control leader Rachel Kitonyo Devotsu wins World No Tobacco Day 2020 award

Friday 29 May, 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognised Rachel Kitonyo Devotsu for her leadership in tobacco control with a World No Tobacco Day 2020 award.

Rachel is an internationally respected lawyer and tobacco control advocate, and the McCabe Centre for Law & Cancer’s Regional Coordinator for Africa. Through the McCabe Centre’s unique International Legal Training Program (ILTP) over the past six years, Rachel has trained more than 150 lawyers and policymakers from low- and middle-income countries on how to use law to prevent and control cancer and other chronic diseases.

The World No Tobacco Day Awards are given out annually to people in WHO’s six regions for their accomplishments in tobacco control. This year’s World No Tobacco Day is being held Sunday 31 May.

“Rachel is a tremendous lawyer and mentor whose energy and integrity inspire everyone she comes into contact with,” says Hayley Jones, Acting Director of the McCabe Centre.

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Rachel has been advancing tobacco control laws and policy for more than 15 years. She helped draft and lobby for Kenya’s Tobacco Control Act 2007 and has founded multiple tobacco control alliances in Kenya and across Africa.

Rachel provides technical support to ILTP alumni and to policymakers around the world through the McCabe Centre’s work as the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Knowledge Hub on legal challenges. The lawyers and policymakers Rachel supports have gone on to advance tobacco control laws in their own countries. In 2019, one alumnus worked to successfully defend Kenyan tobacco control regulations in Kenya’s Supreme Court, while another helped defend Uganda’s Tobacco Control Act in that country’s Constitutional Court from a legal challenge brought by British American Tobacco.

Rachel brings crucial African insight to the McCabe Centre’s capacity-building work. She is also able to draw on lessons learned from Australia’s world-first plain packaging laws. Based in Australia, the McCabe Centre has worked with more than 20 countries on developing and defending tobacco plain packaging laws.

“Rachel in a passionate leader who has dedicated her career to protecting people from cancer,” says Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper. “This well-deserved award is a testament to the growing global impact of Rachel’s work and her commitment to supporting alumni of the McCabe Centre’s training program, in Africa and beyond.”

The McCabe Centre for Law & Cancer is a joint initiative of Cancer Council Victoria, the Union for International Cancer Control, and Cancer Council Australia. The McCabe Centre is also a WHO Collaborating Centre on Law and Noncommunicable Disease.

The McCabe Centre’s legal training programs are supported primarily by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, while funding to support the Knowledge Hub is provided by the Australian Department of Health.

For more information, visit or contact:

Daniel Punch
Communications Manager
McCabe Centre for Law & Cancer
T: +61 3 9514 6404