- POSTED: 08 Oct 2013 20:45
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Hungary's combative Prime Minister Viktor Orban won a rare international tribute on Tuesday as the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognised his efforts to clamp down on smoking.
BUDAPEST: Hungary's combative Prime Minister Viktor Orban won a rare international tribute on Tuesday as the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognised his efforts to clamp down on smoking.
"Orban is a good man who had the courage to take on the tobacco industry and protect his citizens' health," WHO head Margaret Chan said in a ceremony in the Hungarian parliament, presenting Orban with a certificate of special recognition.
Since sweeping to power in 2010, Orban has been criticised at home and abroad for a raft of political and economic reforms that his detractors say have undermined democracy in the EU member state.
But at the same time his government introduced in 2012 a ban on smoking indoors in public places as well as in many outdoor areas, while all cigarette packets now carry graphic health warnings.
And in July this year, a controversial state takeover of the tobacco retail trade slashed the number of sales outlets from more than 40,000 to fewer than 7,000.
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, 50-year-old Orban, a fanatical football fan who still occasionally plays for his local club, said he dedicated his award to all former chain smokers.
Orban's award is featured on a list of awards released by the WHO earlier this year that also honoured Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Thailand's health minister, among others.