Are Partnerships With the Tobacco Industry and Food and Beverage Industry Possible? An Interview With Michael Eriksen
Suggested citation for this article: Are partnerships with the tobacco industry and food and beverage industry possible? An interview with Michael Eriksen [video
interview]. Prev Chronic Dis 2009;6(2):A76.
Dr Michael Eriksen, former director of the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) and director of the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University,
both in Atlanta, Georgia, was interviewed by Elizabeth Majestic with CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion for Preventing Chronic Disease, CDC’s online journal on public health policy, practice, and research (http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/). The Eriksen
discussion focuses on whether the tobacco industry has forfeited its opportunity
to participate in a traditional public-private partnership — the type that is
sought by other industries — and if not, how it can partner successfully with the
public health community. In the second half of his interview, Dr Eriksen considers the lessons learned from the tobacco control experience and how
the public health community might work with the food and beverage industry to
The interview was filmed in November 2008.
Segment 1: Are public-private partnerships with the tobacco industry
The tobacco industry has forfeited its opportunity to participate in traditional public-private partnerships,
but does that mean that the public health community and the tobacco industry cannot work together to achieve a common objective of reducing the harm caused by tobacco use?
Segment 2: What lessons, if any, should the public health community consider when forming partnerships with the business sector to
the obesity epidemic?
Partnerships with the private sector should not be about money, but rather, should be considered when they support the achievement of public health objectives. The public health community also needs to hold the food and beverage industry accountable for
its actions. For example, food and beverage companies should focus their efforts on both physical activity and good nutrition and they should evaluate efforts based on public health outcomes.
Michael Eriksen has been director of the Institute of Public Health at
Georgia State University since 2002. He received his undergraduate and graduate
training at the Johns Hopkins University and has had a long and distinguished
career in public health. Dr Eriksen has been employed in academia (University of
Pennsylvania, University of Texas, Georgia State University), the private sector
(Pacific Telephone), state government (Maryland Department of Health and Mental
Hygiene), federal government (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and
international organizations (World Health Organization). He has published dozens of peer-reviewed articles on tobacco control,
cancer prevention, and health promotion and is coauthor of The Tobacco Atlas
with Judith Mackay. In 2004, the Georgia Cancer Coalition designated him as a Distinguished
Cancer Scholar. Professor Eriksen teaches classes in the social and behavioral
sciences, urban health, tobacco control, and global health. He is director of
Georgia State University’s Partnership for Urban Health