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
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
- 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
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!