Wednesday, September 7, 2011

UCSF, UC Merced to Study Anti-Tobacco Programs

Researchers with UCSF and UC Merced will examine the effectiveness of state and local antismoking programs across the United States in an effort to make sure health authorities are able to use their increasingly limited resources to support and defend the most effective approaches.

Stanton A. Glantz, UCSF professor of medicine, James Lightwood, UCSF assistant professor of clinical pharmacy, and Anna V. Song, UC Merced assistant professor of psychology, were awarded a five-year, $2.6 million grant on Sept. 1 from the National Institutes of Health to study which anti-smoking programs are working best and how the tobacco industry works to prevent states from pursuing the most effective tobacco control policies and programs.

“California’s tobacco control program has already saved California taxpayers and businesses well over $86 billion in direct health costs,” Glantz said. “With this research, we hope to inform policy makers and public health professionals how we can essentially eliminate tobacco as a public health problem in California in the next few years.”

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in California and the nation. Not all programs are equally effective in reducing smoking or bringing down health care costs. Understanding which programs are best can help inform government policy decisions and make sure money is spent on effective programs.

“We are combining modern understanding of adolescent and young adult psychology with mathematical models to understand the spread and decline in tobacco use,” Song said. “It’s similar to the way epidemiologists understand the spread of infectious diseases, with the tobacco companies playing the role of mosquitoes spreading disease.”