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An interview with Mirta Molinari, Director of The Union's Mexico Office and Tobacco Control Coordinator for Latin America.

Q: What is your current role and what does this involve?
A: I have been the Union’s Mexico office director and regional tobacco control coordinator for Latin America since 2008. I work with governments to advance tobacco control policies across the region. We manage Bloomberg Initiative's (BI) grants, provide technical and legal assistance, and make sure countries stay on track to fully implement the WHO FCTC. It's no easy task, but I'm proud of what we have accomplished in almost a decade of hard work. As a result of our sustained efforts, in 2015 I received the WHO’s Pan American Health Organization World No Tobacco Day award. Also in 2015, I became a member of the expert group to review reporting arrangements under FCTC Article1.

Q: What is your main area of expertise? 
A: I trained as a lawyer and did with postgraduate studies in tobacco control, environment and natural resources legislation. I draw from this diversified background in my daily work.

Q: What are you working on right now?
A: Right now, I'm reviewing tobacco control proposals for BI funding submitted by governments and civil society in Latin America and the Caribbean. I'm also organizing, together with BI partners, a legal workshop on tobacco control for lawyers in our region. At the same time, we've got to think ahead, so I'm focusing on designing our regional NCD strategy and plans to help governments tackle the interplay between TB and tobacco.

Q: What do you consider the most important thing for advancing tobacco control?
A: The single most important thing is political will. Nothing can be attained without it. Our job, in that regard, is to stimulate political will, support those who are willing to lead, and seize opportunities for advancing tobacco control.

Q: What are you reading at the moment?
A: Right now, I'm enjoying Fernando Del Paso's News from the Empire, a masterpiece of historical fiction based on the tragic lives of Maximilian and Carlota, the short-lived XIX Century Emperor and Empress of Mexico. It's a wonderful read that helps me understand the history of the country where our office is based and the place I now call home.

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The Tobacco Control Department is based at The Union Europe Office, Edinburgh, registered charity no. SC039880
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