Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: Celebrating the Past And Planning For the Future of Tobacco Control

Celebrating the Past And Planning For the Future of Tobacco Control

Project Manager

At last week's Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA, two major themes emerged: the legacy of tobacco control and how far we've come and the so-called tobacco end-game.

One of the highlights of the conference was Thursday's presentation on the 50th Anniversary of the Surgeon General's Report (SGR) on Smoking and Health. Drs. Michael Fiore, Jonathan Samet, and Kenneth Warner presented on the highlights of the report over the years, including the processes behind composing the report and some key findings from this year's report. One of the important points they drove home was that although the reports have always had a call to action, they never outlined specific steps that public health professionals should take. This shift in verbiage suggests that the field is open for all possibilities.

Conference attendees were even treated to a welcome video from Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., congratulating the SRNT community on its accomplishments over the past 50 years, and encouraging future advancements.

Some key points from the report:

  • Although more than 20 million people have been killed prematurely by tobacco in the 50 years since the 1964 SGR, the tobacco control efforts put in place have saved about 8 million lives from tobacco related deaths.
  • 10 new health consequences that are causally linked to smoking have been added to the already long list--2 more cancers and 8 more chronic diseases.
  • Stroke is now causally linked to SHS exposure.
  • Adult smoking rates in the United States have fallen dramatically over the past 50 years, but there is still a long way to go.

The other major theme was one of the future, and of the so-called end-game of tobacco. There is a rather ambitious goal of bringing adult tobacco use down to 5 percent by 2050; according to Kenneth Warner's modeling, with current measures in place, we will still be at 11.7 percent adult smoking rate in 2050 if we simply continue with our current strategies. A variety of strategies were put forward and discussed as potential ways to reach that goal. Many were based off of incredibly interesting and often incredibly successful pilot programs, such as plain packaging in Australia and the introduction of very low nicotine cigarettes. One topic that couldn't seem to stay off of people's lips or out of their presentations was e-cigs and their potential for assisting in the end-game. The jury is still out, even among this group of almost 1000 experts in the field, but there is no denying that e-cigs will have some role to play in the future landscape of tobacco control.

I'm very curious to see what innovations the next year brings in this field--looking forward to SRNT 2015 in Philadelphia!

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