Rob Crane Receives National "Unsung Heroes" Award for Tobacco Control Work

Honored by American Lung Association and Koop Foundation

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Rob Crane

COLUMBUS OH (06/19/2014)(readMedia)-- Dr. Robert Crane, a family physician/educator from Columbus, has been named the 2014 recipient of the "Unsung Heroes'' Award" from the American Lung Association and the Koop Foundation for his almost two decades of work to prevent tobacco addiction.

The "Unsung Heroes' Award" celebrates the heroes that will make a tobacco-free future possible and recognizes those who fight daily to make a difference that will save lives. He will receive the award on FRIDAY JUNE 20 during the gathering of the national board of directors of the American Lung Association in Chicago.

Crane knows it is easier to prevent someone from ever becoming dependent on nicotine than to break this wicked addiction so he has focused many of his efforts on prevention.

He is the founder of the "Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation", which is dedicated to educating and advocating around youth tobacco prevention and tobacco control policy. Their particular focus is raising the legal minimum sale age for tobacco to age 21. Their educational materials can be found at

He was a strong advocate among the coalition of health organizations that convinced the Ohio Legislature to use part of the 1998 settlement money from the tobacco companies to establish the "Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation". He was appointed as a founding board member and actively served for 8 years. He fought back when the Ohio legislature decided to disband the Foundation, trying to transfer the remaining money to another organization for tobacco control use in Ohio, and then participating in litigation to stop the state from using the money for purposes unrelated to tobacco prevention and cessation. Unfortunately for Ohioans, these efforts failed.

As co-chair of "Smoke Free Columbus", the coalition that helped pass smoke-free legislation in a dozen Central Ohio communities, he helped make Columbus the largest North American city outside of California and New York to become smokefree. The success of this effort was one of the driving forces that lead the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society to spearhead the successful campaign that took all of Ohio smoke free through a November 2006 ballot initiative. To commemorate the first anniversary of Ohio's Smokefree law, he commissioned a piece of public art "1,000 Lives" to represent the many lives saved by the passage of this law. The piece is on display at the offices of the American Cancer Society in Dublin, Ohio.

Crane has regularly provided testimony to state legislatures, committees and task forces with his tobacco prevention efforts spreading beyond Ohio to include California, Utah, Colorado, New York and Hawaii. He is also an active public speaker on tobacco control and a prolific writer with his works including the monograph – The Case for Taking Tobacco to 21.

Crane's concern over tobacco use began in his childhood as his father struggled to break his addiction to tobacco. His father started smoking as a GI in World War II when the tobacco companies provided free cigarettes to the troops. Although his dad eventually succeeded in quitting, he had already been diagnosed with lung cancer and passed after five years of surgeries, chemotherapy and constant shortness of breath.

To help medical students understand the claustrophobia and breathlessness with lung cancer, Crane tells them to sit up with pillow over their face for five full minutes.

As a practicing physician in Ohio, Crane became involved in a successful effort to pass a civil protections bill to protect the rights of AIDS patients. The result was, in Crane's words, the most comprehensive and rational set of protections in the world.

Consequently, having seen the power of advocacy, he made a decision in 1996 to keep the deathbed oath to his father and tackle the tobacco epidemic. Buoyed by the success of the AIDS legislation, he quickly found that the tobacco companies had deep pockets to thwart tobacco-related initiatives. His first venture, Senate Bill 221 sponsored by Senator Grace Drake, never made it out of committee and he later learned that there were 34 full-time, paid lobbyists assembled by the tobacco companies to defeat the bill.

Crane received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern; his M.D. from the Medical College of Ohio; and his family medicine training at the University of Missouri. He currently teaches in the Family Practice Residency of the Ohio State University College of Medicine.

He is the recipient of the 2011 American Academy of Family Physicians Public Health Award, which recognizes extraordinary contributions to the health of the American public.