Paula Johns

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2010
ACT - Aliança de Controle do Tabagismo


This profile was prepared when Paula Johns was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
Paula created the first citizen organization (CO) to effectively take on the issue of tobacco control in Brazil, a field that has traditionally been dominated by short-term government-led initiatives. She established the Alliance on Tobacco Control (ACT) in 2003 in order to push the Brazilian government to sign on to, and implement the international Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Through Paula’s work she has tranformed the field from one that is uniquely focused on individual health issues related to tobacco use to one that is intricately linked to broader sustainable development and public interest questions.

Paula focuses on four main strategies. To begin, she is influencing government policies regarding tobacco control. Additionally, she is broadening the focus of tobacco control activities to include considerations for human rights, gender, race, economic development, and environmental protection, among others. Paula is also building research and communication tools to counteract the power of the industry’s lobby with scientific data and to change perceptions around tobacco use among the general population. Finally, she is creating alliances with small producers to ensure that with decreased tobacco consumption they will continue to have a secure source of income while ensuring greater well-being.

Some of Paula’s most impactful work has been around mobilizing the citizen sector to influence public policies on the issue of tobacco control. For example, her ACT has led an effort to elaborate and implement the first state laws transforming enclosed public spaces into non-smoking spaces. ACT has also led policy debates that have resulted in the implementation of stricter advertizing regulations for the tobacco industry and has disseminated influential public opinion research about second-hand smoke. Her initiatives are already reaching a national level. However, she has her sights set on much bigger goals. That is why she is actively participating in regional tobacco networks throughout the Americas and has become a member of the Framework Convention Alliance through which she has helped create similar citizen sector alliances to her own in Mozambique, Ecuador, and Argentina.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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