The following obituary was submitted by Action on Smoking and Health:
It is with deep sadness that Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) announces the passing of devoted ASH Trustee and former Chair, Martin Adam Jacobs, on May 14, 2013.
Jacobs, a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey, was a true pioneer in the public health movement. His vision prompted him to take action against the tobacco epidemic. He was instrumental in founding ASH as the nation’s first organization devoted specifically to the fight against the harms of tobacco in 1968 and served continuously on ASH’s Board of Trustees. He assumed the chairmanship in 1975 and remained in that position until 2010.
Under his leadership, ASH played a leading role in educating the public about the dangers of smoking, in protecting nonsmokers from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, and in taking the fight for health and against the harm caused by tobacco to a global level through its support of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Following his tenure as Board Chair, Jacobs served as Chair of ASH’s investment committee and devoted his energy to assuring the future of the organization. His loyalty and fierce dedication of over 45 years to ASH and the tobacco control movement won the admiration of his fellow Trustees and staff at ASH.
“Martin Jacobs was an incredibly bright man who used his intellect not to enrich himself, but to fight for justice and for a world free from the shackles of big tobacco,” said Dr. Alfred Munzer, who succeeded Jacobs as Chair of ASH. “We will miss his wit, his vision and his ability to bring people together.”
“Martin Jacobs’ leadership helped ASH become a true catalyst for health, here in the U.S. and all around the world. The vision of this brilliant, passionate but humble man will prevent millions of unnecessary premature deaths,” said Laurent Huber, ASH Executive Director.
In addition to his years of service to the health movement through ASH, Jacobs was a proud veteran of the civil rights movement who participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and witnessed Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. In later years he enjoyed recounting the story of his arrest and jailing for protesting in favor of racial equality with CORE at the New York World’s Fair in 1964.
He had recently retired as a highly regarded software systems designer at the CME Group, formerly the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Jacobs is survived by his wife Joyce; sons Daniel (Edie Sachs) and Michael (Malena Handeen); sisters Alice Twombly, Evelyn MacLean, and Verandah Porche; and grandchildren Hazel, Arlo, and Abigail, as well as four nephews and two nieces.
He will be sorely missed by his family, friends at ASH, and fellow advocates for health and civil rights.