Garfield (Gar) Mahood is a Canadian hero. He has spent much of his life fighting for the social change needed to prevent tobacco-caused illness and death. For over 35 years he has been at the forefront of the fight to confront Big Tobacco.
Gar is president of the Campaign for Justice on Tobacco Fraud. He was the founding executive director of the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association (1976-2012), the recipient of the inaugural international Luther L. Terry Award created by the American Cancer Society. The NSRA was cited in the “Outstanding Organization” category by a panel of judges from around the world.
Gar and his staff of committed advocates led campaigns for clean indoor air laws, for Canada’s world precedent-setting tobacco advertising ban, for increases in tobacco taxation, and for global leading cigarette package warnings.
He has a reputation for playing hardball, and winning, against an industry that operates well outside the norms of legitimate business. In mid-career, cigarette manufacturers placed him first on their list of individual threats to the global tobacco industry.
His professional career on public issues began as the first executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association. He held that position when CELA won a conservation award as the leading environmental organization in Canada.
He was inducted as an Officer in the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour system, for “a lifetime of achievement and merit of high degree especially in service to Canada or to humanity at large.”
He was also the recipient of a World Health Organization gold medal and the Canadian Cancer Society’s Citation of Merit for “forceful leadership in the cause of cancer prevention.”
Gar is a leader who has “walked the talk” and understands the social change process often required to achieve desired public interest goals.
His keynotes offer lessons learned in his fight against Big Tobacco that are transferrable to other issues citizens face.
- Business Fraud: An examination of the historic ongoing provincial lawsuits to recover health care costs
Audiences are moved by Gar’s talk about the provincial lawsuits against tobacco manufacturers now before the courts over alleged conspiracy and fraud. The provinces are trying to recover health care costs to sick smokers caused by decades of industry lying about risks, addiction, second-hand smoke and targeting kids. Claims are expected to reach CAN $150 billion. Gar traces Big Tobacco misbehaviour from a hotel room in New York to an historic U.S. racketeering decision in 2006, a decision that tells us much about the behaviour of the industry’s Canadian subsidiaries. They adopted the corporate positions on risks taken by their parents. If the provincial allegations are proven in court, the wrongful behaviour would constitute the largest and most destructive fraud in the history of Canadian business and public health.
- Strategies that led to landmark laws and social change
Audiences are intrigued by the Canadian tobacco wars, the battles between public health and the cigarette manufacturers as the health side matched the industry, strategy by strategy and tactic by tactic (Marketing Magazine). And they are inspired by the aggressiveness that led to a US tobacco trade magazine, the Tobacco Reporter, calling Gar’s organization “one of the fiercest [lobbies] in the world” (The Washington Post). Those in attendance will learn the social change theory that served as a manual for Gar and the NSRA as it helped propel Canada into world leadership in tobacco reduction and why Canada has now fallen behind.