SUNY Buffalo Alumnus Makes Advancements on Smoking and Health

Published September 18, 2014

Only few short years after earning a doctorate degree from the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, Brian King, PhD, is making strides at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the a Senior Scientific Advisor in the Office on Smoking and Health.  His role helps lead the federal agency for comprehensive tobacco prevention and control in the United States. In this capacity, King provides scientific leadership and technical expertise to inform tobacco control policy, planning, and practice at the national, state, and local levels.

King most recently served as the lead author on the paper published titled “Prevalence of Smoke-free Home Rules — United States, 1992–1993 and 2010–2011” that was released earlier this month. The study assessed progress toward increasing the proportion of households with smoke-free home rules. Although an increasing number of states have implemented comprehensive smoke-free policies in public areas and worksites, the home still remains a major source of secondhand smoke exposure for many americans, particularly children.

The study found that the national prevalence of smoke-free home rules increased from 43.0 percent during 1992–1993 to 83.0 percent during 2010–2011. Over the same period, the national prevalence of smoke-free home rules increased from 56.7 percent to 91.4 percent among households with no adult cigarette smokers and from 9.6 percent to 46.1 percent among households with at least one adult smoker. The implications of these findings are that the prevalence of smoke-free home rules among U.S. households increased considerably over the past two decades; however, millions of non-smokers in the United States remain unprotected by smoke-free home rules, especially those who live in homes with smokers. The findings from the study underscore the importance of efforts to educate the public about the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure and to promote the adoption of smoke-free home rules, particularly among population groups at greatest risk for secondhand smoke exposure, such as those living in households with smokers, in states with lower prevalence of smoke-free home rules, and in multi-unit housing complexes such as apartments and condominiums.

King has also conducted research to provide sound scientific evidence to inform tobacco control policy and works to effectively communicate this information to key stakeholders, including decision makers, the media and the general public. Some prominent research topics included the field of tobacco control and the proliferation of e-cigarettes in the United States. King was a contributing author to the fiftieth Anniversary Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, which was released in January at the White House by Acting U.S. Surgeon General Boris Lushniak and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Additionally, he was also the lead author of CDC’s 2014 report, “Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs”, an evidence-based guide to help states plan and establish effective tobacco control programs to prevent and reduce tobacco use.  The report has been a blueprint for years for states in the planning and implementation of comprehensive tobacco control programs, with the ultimate goal of reducing smoking rates and tobacco-related disease and death, protecting people from secondhand smoke exposure, encouraging smokers to quit, and preventing youth from starting to smoke in the first place.

King holds three degrees from the University at Buffalo; he graduated with a BS in 2004, an MPH in 2006 and a PhD with a concentration in epidemiology and environmental health in 2010.