For the first time ever, we are beginning to scientifically assess which governmental tobacco control policies are working and which ones are not, said K. Michael Cummings, Ph.D., MPH, chair of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. In the same way that evidence-based medicine has been built from rigorous evaluation of treatment options, our goal is to contribute to the development of a sound science base for tobacco control policies.
The ITC serves to study which policies are working best in countries that have imposed restrictions, says Cummings. Cummings started the study in four countries in 2002 with a $1.5 million grant from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, and to date, $35 million has been raised to expand the research into 15 countries, utilizing the aid of 60 investigators from 17 research institutes.
Because randomized clinical trials cant be used to evaluate government policies, the ITC study uses as controls those countries that have implemented tobacco control policies and compares the effects on tobacco use behaviors in countries that have not, such as the United States. It is tracking tobacco use behaviors of 1,000 to 2,000 participants in each of the countries, Cummings says. This is a new model for global public health research that can be used to evaluate other public health policies such as HIV, diet, and cancer screening, he said.
It made sense for WHO to start off with tobacco as a focal point for action since tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the world today and is a growing epidemic in the developing world, he said. Tobacco use was responsible for 100 million deaths in the 20th century, and that number is expected to grow to 1 billion in the 21st century, he says.
ITC researchers have found that boosting tobacco taxes, comprehen
|Contact: Greg Lester|
American Association for Cancer Research