NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
November 23, 2004 • Volume 1 / Number 45 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Director's Update

Achieving Success and Addressing Challenges in
Tobacco Control

In the landmark 1964 U.S. Surgeon General's report on smoking and health, then-Surgeon General Dr. Luther L. Terry called for "appropriate remedial action" to combat smoking and its detrimental effects. Over the last few weeks, we have seen the cancer community's continued dedication to combating the smoking scourge, and witnessed the impact it has had. As reported in last week's Bulletin, there is now a new, single access number to the existing network of tobacco quitline services, 1-800-QUITNOW. The launch of this centralized quitline - and related Web site, - is an integral component of our nationwide effort to help tobacco users end their deadly habit. And last Thursday brought us the 28th annual Great American Smokeout, the excellent campaign spearheaded by the American Cancer Society. Last year approximately 20 percent of current smokers participated in this 1-day event - a clear indication that there is a sincere desire among many tobacco users to quit.

The success that state comprehensive tobacco control programs can have appeared in the November 12, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. An NCI-funded study revealed that in 2003, the prevalence of cigarette smoking among adults in Utah was 12 percent or less - this is the first time any state has reached the Healthy People 2010 health objective for smoking prevalence. The report warned, however, that a number of states continue to struggle in this area, with a median smoking prevalence in all 50 states of approximately 22 percent.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to provide support for state tobacco control programs, NCI-funded investigators collaborate with local program leaders to test program components and develop new strategies. For example, NCI is supporting a randomized trial testing existing smoking prevention programs in 36 school districts in Oregon. Results should provide real-world evidence for the effectiveness of combined school- and community-based tobacco interventions, and factors that influence their success.

The NCI Tobacco Control Research Branch (TCRB), part of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, continues to lead NCI's investment in tobacco control. A flagship of TCRB's efforts is the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Centers (TTURC) initiative. Launched in 1999, the centers are at the forefront of advancing tobacco control research, pushing it in new and novel directions. Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania TTURC published the first study linking specific genes and psychosocial factors to whether teen smokers progress to become adult smokers. At the Roswell Park Cancer Institute TTURC, investigators are examining the impact of national tobacco control policies around the world.

We continue to be proactive in addressing emerging research needs. NCI is one of the primary funders of a program announcement (PA) intended to stimulate multidisciplinary research on so-called reduced-exposure tobacco products. There is a severe lack of scientific evidence on whether these modified tobacco products do, in fact, reduce users' exposures to toxins in tobacco smoke or their risk for tobacco-related diseases. This PA is a proactive effort to understand the impact of tobacco products on smokers' behavior and health.

The breadth of the tobacco control efforts going on nationwide is striking. At NCI, we are committed to comprehensive tobacco control, and I am confident that - working with partners on the federal, state, and local levels - we can indeed turn the tide against tobacco use.

Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach
Director, National Cancer Institute