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February 1, 2002


New Group at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health Receives $15 Million to Fight Tobacco Use

Three leading national health organizations have committed $15 million to establish the Tobacco Technical Assistance Consortium (TTAC) in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. The Consortium will help states and communities develop and run effective programs to prevent and reduce tobacco use in the ongoing battle against smoking-related disease and death. Funding will come from the American Cancer Society, the American Legacy Foundation, and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"We feel honored to be chosen for this pivotal role in the fight against the nation's leading preventable cause of death," said James W. Curran, M.D., M.P.H., dean of the Rollins School of Public Health. "Diseases caused by tobacco use kill about 400,000 Americans a year."

Dearell Niemeyer, M.P.H., executive director of TTAC, said that the new consortium is designed to train persons who are responsible for tobacco control programs at the state and local level.

"We have a rapidly growing need for increased technical capacity in the tobacco use prevention and control field," he said. "As a result of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the states and the tobacco industry, there is an infusion of funding. Now we need to make sure that we have the people, the tools, and the skills in place to use these new resources effectively. The consortium can help."

The majority of TTAC's funding will be used to provide hands-on services to assist communities in reaching their goals for reducing the harm that tobacco use causes to their citizens.

"The Consortium will work with national, state and local partners to improve methods for delivering quality technical assistance," said Kathy Miner, Ph.D., associate dean for applied public health and principal investigator. "Ultimately, in our communities this can translate into changing how tobacco is promoted, marketed, sold, and used."

The consortium will gather and/or develop the necessary resources to fill existing gaps in training at state and local levels. Plans for the Consortium include training programs and consultations, along with an electronic library of resources, to help health professionals and other community leaders strengthen their skills in:
  • drafting effective tobacco-control laws and regulations;
  • using broadcast media to deliver effective messages;
  • developing culturally appropriate programs;
  • conducting meaningful smoking-cessation projects; and
  • building community coalitions.

"Georgia is an excellent example of how many of the states are using the Master Settlement Agreement funds to improve the health status of their citizens," Curran said. "Georgia has committed $15.8 million this year specifically to reduce tobacco use. In addition, Governor Roy Barnes has led the state through an extensive planning process to produce Georgia's first comprehensive plan to reduce all cancers. The implementation of the Georgia Cancer Coalition will establish Georgia as a national leader in the research, treatment, and prevention of cancer. The Rollins School of Public Health in partnership with The Winship Cancer Institute at Emory intends to be a valued resource in helping the state to achieve this goal."

"The best opportunity we have in Georgia to reduce cancer-related deaths is by decreasing tobacco use. The Georgia Cancer Coalition is committed to this effort and proud to have the leadership of TTAC in the state," said Russ Toal, president of the Georgia Cancer Coalition.

"A recent public health report shows that many states are failing miserably by not using funds from the $206 billion Master Settlement Agreement for tobacco prevention and treatment programs that save lives," said Steven A. Schroeder, M.D., president and CEO of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "The Consortium will work with the national and community partners and existing tobacco control programs to ensure that states put the right programs in place."

Michael M.E. Johns, M.D., executive vice president for health affairs at Emory University and CEO of Emory Healthcare, noted that tobacco use causes many types of cancer other than lung cancer.

"As a head and neck cancer surgeon, I am painfully aware that tobacco contributes to cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, and larynx, as well as the esophagus and bladder," he said. "Tobacco use is also linked to heart disease and chronic lung disease. If this new consortium is able in any way to reduce smoking and other tobacco use, especially by children and teens, it will make an important contribution to the fundamental mission of Emory Healthcare, which is, quite simply, to make people healthy."

Ron Todd, national director of tobacco control for the American Cancer Society, said "the goals of the TTAC and its programs nicely complement the American Cancer Society's central mission of eliminating cancer as a major health problem. The consortium will be a benefit to all states wanting to develop comprehensive tobacco control programs, not just those that have received tobacco settlement funds."

Dr. Cheryl Healton, president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation, added, "Legacy is excited about supporting the TTAC, because helping states to develop effective anti-tobacco programs is one of our key missions. Many states and communities are gearing up their efforts for the first time, and the TTAC will provide the expertise they need to develop successful programs and save lives."

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