The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded Emory a $14 million grant aimed toward reducing tobacco use in China, the largest tobacco producer and consumer in the world, in November.
This five-year grant creates the Emory Global Health Institute – China Tobacco Partnership, managed by the Emory Global Health Institute.
The Tobacco Technical Assistance Consortium (TTAC) of Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, the American Cancer Society and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will each have representatives on the partnership’s program advisory board.
Jeffrey Koplan, director of the Global Health Institute, wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel
that this particular partnership was established because tobacco is a major global health concern and is focused in China because China is an influential and large nation where 670,000 deaths are attributed to smoking each year. Today, 60 percent of men and 10 percent of women in China are smokers.
According to Koplan, tobacco is an increasingly serious problem because smoking is the primary cause for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and nearly 80 percent of deaths from chronic lung disease. Smoking also greatly contributes to the burden of heart disease, he wrote.
He wrote that despite major reductions in tobacco use over the past 30 years, there are still 43.4 million smokers in the United States. In 2000, he added, an estimated 4.8 million deaths were attributed to cigarette smoking globally, and nearly half of these deaths were in developing countries.
“Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death in many parts of the world,” Koplan wrote. “This burden will only increase.”
Koplan will lead as principal investigator with Pamela Redmon, executive director of TTAC. Co-principal investigators include Kathy Miner, associate dean of applied public health at the Rollins School of Public Health, and Michael Erikson, director of the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University.
With this grant, the team is beginning to make plans. Koplan wrote that studies are being developed and interventions for the project are in progress with their partners in China. Already, Koplan wrote, the partnership has goals for what they would like to see in the future.
Koplan wrote that the team hopes to help reduce the health, social, environmental and economic burdens of tobacco use in China.
“Long-term goals are, of course, to markedly reduce the rate of smoking in China among men and to prevent women from initiating this addiction,” Koplan wrote. “In the shorter term, we hope to increase knowledge of the hazards of tobacco use to both the user and those around him, promote a negative attitude toward smoking, change the social norm regarding smoking in public places and promote increased tobacco taxes.”
In order to do this, the team will focus on providing funding for cities to establish “sustainable, comprehensive programs to prevent initiation among youth,” Redmon wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel
. To support these programs and help the cities in achieving their goals and objectives, she said, the team hopes to establish a Center of Excellence to act as a resource center.
“There are more smokers in China than there are people in the United States,” Redmon wrote. “Smoking not only affects the smoker, but others exposed to second-hand smoke. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the burdens of tobacco use in China.”
— Contact Alice Chen