University at Buffalo Tobacco Cessation Initiatives

Gary Giovino, Professor and Chair, Department of Community Health and Health Behavior

Published May 31, 2013

The University at Buffalo SUNY School of Public Health and Health Professions tobacco cessation initiatives are led by Dr. Gary Giovino, professor and chair of the department of community health and health behavior.

Dr. Giovino’s work focuses on surveillance of tobacco use. His most recent contributions are to the Global Tobacco Surveillance System. He facilitated questionnaire development for the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), which was created by major national and international health agencies to improve the ability of countries to design, implement, and evaluate anti-tobacco efforts. He also facilitated the process of updating the questionnaire for the Global Youth Tobacco Survey, the world’s largest public health surveillance system.

Dr. Giovino and his research colleagues examined GATS data from nationally representative household surveys of individuals aged 15 years and older conducted during 2008 - 2010 in 14 low and middle income countries (Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Vietnam).

The results, detailing tobacco use in the 14 GATS countries, the United Kingdom, and the United States, were published in The Lancet and documented tobacco use in 852 million people (including 301 million in China and 275 million in India). Smoking cessation among people in China, India, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Russia who have ever smoked daily was as low < 20 percent as was observed in the United States in the 1950s. The World Health Organization estimates that if current trends continue, one billion premature and preventable tobacco-attributable deaths could occur during the 21st century.

Dr. Giovino and his colleagues called for stronger implementation of policies that will decrease tobacco use initiation, promote quitting, and protect nonsmokers from the toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke pollution. What is needed, he said, is the deliberate allocation of more resources to fully implement tobacco control strategies, such as the MPOWER strategies of the World Health Organization. These strategies monitor tobacco use, protect nonsmokers, offer help with quitting, warn people about the dangers of tobacco use via large, graphic warning labels on tobacco packages and hard-hitting mass media campaigns, enforce advertising restrictions, and raise taxes on tobacco products.