AACR Praises New HHS Tobacco Education Campaign


PHILADELPHIA — The American Association for Cancer Research applauds the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for its plans to launch a new nationwide tobacco education campaign, “Tips From a Former Smoker,” which will feature depictions of the health risks of smoking.

“Tobacco use causes nearly one-third of all cancer deaths, about 170,000 people every year — and cancer is only one of the ways that tobacco kills people,” said Roy Herbst, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the AACR Task Force on Tobacco and Cancer, and chief of medical oncology at Yale University. “We must do a better job educating people about the dangers of all tobacco products because, despite our efforts to date, one in five Americans is still smoking. Tobacco use is the single largest cause of preventable death in the country, yet we’re seeing that every day nearly 4,000 young people try their first cigarette, with about 1,000 becoming addicted to the nicotine in these products.”

The goals of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) campaign are to increase public awareness about the health risks of smoking and secondhand smoke exposure, motivate smokers to quit, encourage smokers who need help to call 1-800-QUITNOW and encourage adults to actively protect their kids from exposure to secondhand smoke. The ads will begin airing nationwide on Monday, March 19.

The HHS announcement comes on the heels of a new report from the surgeon general, titled Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, which details the scope, health consequences and influences that lead to youth tobacco use and specifies proven strategies that prevent its use. The report also provides further scientific evidence on the addictive nature of nicotine.

Remarking on the administration’s efforts, Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the AACR, said, “As a research community we are actively working to find better treatments for all types of cancer, but we know that tobacco use causes cancer and the best way to prevent people from dying from this terrible disease is simply to prevent them from using tobacco in the first place. The administration’s efforts to prevent tobacco use are very encouraging and we hope this will make a real difference in combating this enormous public health problem, which causes no fewer than 18 different types of cancer.”

In 2010, the AACR released a comprehensive policy statement (Adobe Acrobat Reader required) on tobacco and cancer comprising policy recommendations and a road map for future research to stem the tide of tobacco-related death and disease. In particular, the statement highlighted the need for more effective, evidence-based public communication to prevent, reduce and eliminate tobacco use.

Among other tobacco-related efforts planned for the coming year, the task force will sponsor a policy session at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012 on Sunday, April 1 at 3:15 p.m. CT in room W178 of McCormick Place West titled “Challenging Conventional Cancer Care: The Untold Story of Tobacco’s Effect on Cancer Biology, Treatment Response and Survival.” This Science Policy Session will offer attendees an analysis of the effects of tobacco on tumor physiology and cancer treatment, identify the complexities of both assessing tobacco use and providing cessation support to cancer patients, report on the current state of tobacco assessment in National Cancer Institute Cooperative Group clinical trials and provide a framework for incorporating tobacco use into the design and interpretation of future cancer research.