Former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang deserved special acknowledgement for her fight against tobacco, the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) said.
"The current tobacco laws are largely her legacy to the nation," the organisation said in a statement.
"With typical tenacity, she resisted pressure from the tobacco industry to weaken the laws and she convinced both Cabinet colleagues and Parliament's portfolio committee on health of the need and urgency of action."
NCAS said it was thanks to Tshabalala-Msimang that South Africa's sporting heroes were no longer "walking billboards for cigarette companies", that people could use public transport without suffocating, and that diners could eat without being exposed to the dangers of tobacco smoke.
Her contributions to international tobacco control were also widely acknowledged, and South Africa had been a leading player in the negotiations for the World Health Organisation's convention on tobacco control.
"The NCAS is grateful for the important contribution Mantombazana Tshabalala-Msimang made to reducing, cancer, heart attacks, lung diseases and complications of pregnancy caused by smoking and tobacco use in our communities," it said.
Tshabalala-Msimang died last week of complications resulting from a liver transplant in 2007.
Her funeral was held in Pretoria on Tuesday. - (Sapa, December 2009)