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Welcome and Introductory Remarks

April 13, 2005: Global Tobacco Epidemic


Dana Shelton, Associate Director for Policy, CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, and Executive Secretary for the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health (ICSH)

Dana Shelton, Associate Director for Policy in the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) and Executive Secretary for the ICSH welcomed participants and announced that Surgeon General Richard Carmona had been called away to another meeting but would arrive later in the day. In his place, Rear Admiral Robert Williams was introduced to deliver introductory remarks.

Introductory Remarks

Rear Admiral Robert Williams, Chief of Staff, Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Admiral Williams began by welcoming and thanking the international visitors for their participation in the meeting. He continued by describing the toll of tobacco–related deaths internationally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco–related diseases will kill more than 10 million people annually by 2030 and that seven million of these deaths will occur in developing countries. The burden is not evenly distributed across the globe however, with differences found among countries and regions as well as among specific population groups. Differences also exist in the capacity and infrastructure of countries to address tobacco prevention and control and in peoples' access to prevention and treatment resources. Partnerships that cross borders, regions and across the globe are critical in effectively addressing this problem.

Admiral Williams continued by describing the ongoing challenge in tobacco control to help people better understand what our strong and growing body of scientific evidence is telling us and how to put evidence–based approaches into practice. Not only is the U.S. committed to continuing to build the knowledge base, but also to share this scientific information and communicate proven methods of reducing tobacco use. Furthermore, the U.S. will continue to support efforts to implement effective and sustainable programs through bilateral or multilateral partnerships with health ministries and international agencies throughout the world.

A major focus of U.S global tobacco control efforts is to expand its leadership role in surveillance and in translating data into action. Admiral Williams briefly described the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) efforts in this area through the Fogarty International Center (FIC) as well as the CDC's OSH partnership with the WHO to implement the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS). (Both of these efforts are discussed in greater detail later in the day's agenda.)

Admiral Williams talked about the great progress achieved in the U.S. over the past 40 years in bringing down rates of smoking among youth and adults and credited much of this success to a comprehensive approach to tobacco control and prevention efforts that includes community programs, media and countermarketing efforts, education about the risks of tobacco use, and research and policy interventions. He also mentioned the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which went into effect on February 27, 2005 and how important it is that we make the most of the opportunities that implementation of the FCTC will bring.

Admiral Williams closed his remarks by giving a charge to the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health:

  • Raise the visibility of the global tobacco epidemic
  • Learn what is currently being done to reduce its effects
  • Discuss opportunities to foster further collaboration
  • Determine next steps toward the future of global tobacco control

Following Admiral Williams' remarks, Committee members and speakers were asked to introduce themselves. (See attached list of ICSH members and representatives.)

Dr. Samira Asma, Associate Director, Global Tobacco Control Unit, OSH, CDC, introduced Dr. Mauricio Hernandez–Avila, the Executive Director of the National Institutes of Public Health in Mexico, to provide some brief introductory comments and welcome several fellow presenters.

Mauricio Hernandez–Avila, MD., DSc., General Director, Instituto Nacional De Salud Publica, Mexico

Dr. Hernandez–Avila offered brief introductory remarks describing the scope of the tobacco use problem in poor and middle–income countries where tobacco control is not "on the agenda." Tobacco control in most of these countries is under–funded and the non–governmental sector is not well organized around the issue. Dr. Hernandez–Avila shared with the Committee that despite these poor odds, Mexico was the first country to ratify the FCTC.

Following Dr. Hernandez–Avila's opening remarks, Rear Admiral Robert Williams introduced the first speaker.

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