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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University December 20, 2004 | Vol. 34 No. 16
Institute for Global Tobacco Control Receives Elite Recognition

By Kenna Lowe
School of Public Health

The Institute for Global Tobacco Control at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has been designated a collaborating center of the Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization in supporting global efforts to reduce tobacco use. The IGTC is one of three tobacco control surveillance and evaluation collaborating centers in the United States, joining the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of California, San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

The IGTC will promote research, surveillance, evaluation and training in support of a progressive and aggressive policy development agenda; these activities play a critical role in building and maintaining strong tobacco control programs. The IGTC has been active in all of these areas throughout the world. It participated in the 1996 national smoking survey in China and recently conducted an assessment of second-hand smoke exposure across Latin America.

"The IGTC was selected to be a collaborating center as a result of its commitment to combating the global tobacco epidemic," said Jonathan Samet, director of the IGTC and chair of the Bloomberg School's Department of Epidemiology. "As part of the school and the Department of Epidemiology, we have an extensive network of partnerships and collaborations that have been established by our faculty. The institute is in a position to offer real and lasting approaches to control and prevent tobacco-related death and disease."

Samet, an international authority on tobacco's effects on health, explained that the research of the institute is imperative. "Knowing the scale of a country's tobacco epidemic, as well as the machinations of tobacco companies, can give researchers the evidence needed to convince governments to adopt new policies and intervention programs," he said.

Global debates over public smoking, advertising bans and tobacco taxes can be clouded by industry influence, politics and cultural beliefs. Yet the science on the health effects of tobacco has never been clearer. By 2030, health experts estimate that deaths from tobacco will surpass those from any other cause.

Frances Stillman, co-director of the institute and an associate research professor in the Department of Epidemiology, said, "Since the institute's inception six years ago, we've been working with PAHO and WHO on various tobacco-related issues. This designation is a natural extension of our current working relationship. All three organizations — our institute, PAHO and WHO — share a common goal of stopping tobacco use in developing countries and widening controls to fight tobacco companies who are promoting this habit to unsuspecting people. This designation will strengthen the ongoing research we have in about 20 countries around the world."

The institute will continue to serve as an educational resource on tobacco-related topics, offering courses and training workshops and undertaking tobacco control policy and intervention projects.


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