A. Judson Wells, Ph.D.

2007 American Lung Association/C. Everett Koop Unsung Hero Award Recipient 

A. Judson Wells, Ph.D., embodies the spirit of the American Lung Association/C. Everett Koop Foundation Unsung Hero Award. Dr. Wells is considered a pioneer, friend and mentor to tobacco control advocates and researchers examining the deadly consequences of tobacco use.

After retiring from a successful career as a corporate executive, Dr. Wells became a volunteer with the American Lung Association, where he made outstanding contributions to public health. Dr. Wells became one of the most influential epidemiologists in the world on secondhand smoke and was the first to highlight the link between secondhand smoke exposure and heart disease. In 1988, he published the first comprehensive estimate of deaths due to secondhand smoke, concluding that more than 50,000 Americans die each year as a result of secondhand smoke.

While the epidemiological community initially dismissed his estimates as too high, his methodology has now been adopted by the United States and many other developed nations. Dr. Wells’ research has been at the heart of the widespread efforts to prohibit smoking in work places and other public places. To date, 23 states, all Canadian provinces, much of Europe and nations throughout the world have smokefree air laws.

Dr. Wells’ research was cited in the 2006 U.S. Surgeon General’s report on secondhand smoke and its key conclusion linking secondhand smoke exposure to heart disease. In February of this year, Dr. Wells passed away at the age of 90, but through his passion, dedication, hard work and unwavering pursuit of the science, he will continue to serve as an inspiration in our collective efforts to reduce the burden caused by tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. His contributions will save millions of lives around the world.

The American Lung Association and the C. Everett Koop Foundation are proud to recognize Dr. Wells and the nearly three decades worth of scientific contributions he made to tobacco control by honoring him as the 2008 C. Everett Koop Foundation Unsung Hero.