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An image capturing the moment a magistrate orders the public burning of illegal tobacco advertising in Dhaka, Bangladesh, has been selected as one of the The Lancet’s Highlights for 2015.The striking photograph was selected as ‘capturing a health issue in a powerful way’. It is published in the December issue of the medical journal as well as on its website.

In January 2015 the Department of Tobacco Control commissioned Swiss photographer Matthieu Zellweger to document the work of a ‘mobile court’ enforcing tobacco advertising bans on the streets of Dhaka. The series of photographs was taken to help illustrate Bangladesh’s ‘unique and effective’ tobacco control taskforces as described in a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Matthieu worked with Ishrat Chowdhury, The Union's technical advisor for Bangladesh, to organise the photoshoot.

The winning image is printed in The Lancet with the following text:

Lighting the way to a smokefree world
Matthieu Zellweger, Johanna Dollerson; the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Edinburgh EH3 7TH, Edinburgh, UK
In Dhaka, Bangladesh, a mobile court headed by Executive Magistrate Sifat-e-Jahan gathers a crowd as it supervises the destruction of illegal tobacco advertisements. Tobacco advertising is banned in Bangladesh as part of the government’s strategy to reduce tobacco use and prevent the suffering it causes. Mobile courts are one component of Bangladesh’s unique tobacco control taskforces, which include representatives from health, justice and police departments, and civil society. They have the power to undertake random inspections, issue fines, and destroy illegal material to uphold tobacco control laws. Such on-the-spot justice provides a powerful visual communication on the dangers of tobacco use. Bangladesh has high rates of tobacco use and low literacy rates. Word about the spectacle captured here will be spread both by immediate bystanders, and by those travelling on the bus in the background.

Matthieu Zellweger has worked with the Department, and The Union more broadly, over many years. Recent tobacco control projects include law enforcement in Punjab, India, and assessing the success of smokefree laws in Guangzhou, China. Matthieu has won a series of awards for his high impact photographs, which focus on public health and development: Photo Philanthropy's Activist Award 2014, proof.org Emerging Photojournalist of 2013 and Editor's Pick at Visa Pour l'Image in 2013 and 2015. He has worked with Médecins Sans Frontières, WHO, UNICEF and AIDS Partners.

The £300 prize money has been donated to The Union’s Centennial Campaign.


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