Friday, August 1, 2008


The Global Tobacco Control Leadership Program 2008 has accentuated the need to deglamorize, denormalize and delegitimize tobacco use in order to achieve tobacco control on a global scale. The program has reiterated the dire need to get people in the drumbeat of tobacco control.
It has been a great learning experience here at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where 70 participants from 15 countries have met and shared one another’s experiences and success stories in tobacco control.

The program rolled out a platform for learning and sharing the diverse issues pertinent to tobacco control. The two – week long training has unfolded a holistic outlook to tobacco control and has highlighted the need for a multi- disciplinary approach.
Apart from helping the participants to acquire competencies, strengthen skills and apply principles and theories of evidence-based policies in tobacco control, the program has enhanced the leadership and networking skills to implement effective policy change; we’ve been inspired, all over again, to provide sustained inputs for creating a continuum of effective action plans in order to achieve remarkable results in tobacco control.

Truly, Tobacco Control is not a sprint but a long term marathon and the 2008 Global Tobacco Control Leadership Program has provided the momentum for it; the program has voiced out loud and clear, the need to create a critical mass of people from varied sections of the society for effective and sustained tobacco control efforts.

As the two-week long program comes to a close, let us all commit ourselves to leave behind a legacy of a tobacco-free world for our future generation.

Dr. Niki Shrestha
Junior Public Health Professional
Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)
World Health Organization, South-East Asia Regional Office

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Dr. Sharon Eubanks, who served as the lead counsel for the United States in the largest civil Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) enforcement action ever filed, United States v. Philip Morris, et al, spoke to a room full of attentive audience members on the nuts and bolts of expert witness in fighting against the tobacco industry. In this 9-month landmark case in tobacco control history, the federal district court found the defendants liable for RICO violations and ordered injunctive relief.

Eubanks first explained the difference between a fact witness (one who observed the happening of an event) and an expert witness (one who has the knowledge for the trial of the facts) and emphasized the importance of selecting qualified expert witnesses with supporting publications, documents, and credibility. Dr. Jonathan Samet and Dr. Frank Chaloupka, both speakers in the Tobacco Control Leadership Program, both participated as expert witnesses in this trial.

During her lecture, Eubanks highlighted 20 expert witnesses who testified in the trial. They consisted of professionals from various fields including economics, psychology, epidemiology, medicine, social behavioral research, and mass communication. Eubanks stressed the importance of having expert witnesses in this case and also shared a memorable testimony by Dr. Fiori whose patient quit smoking for her grandchild but then passed away from cancer soon after she quit.

Eubanks advised the participants that in preparing for a similar lawsuit of their own they should target the obvious weakness of the tobacco industry—fraudulence which includes marketing to youth, the health effects, low-tar tactics, and the development of less hazardous cigarette products.

-Alice Tsai, Institute for Global Tobacco Control


“Women and Tobacco - Policy Guidelines and Gender Framework” – the session by Soon Young-Yoon started with a very lively introduction of all the participants. The session echoed an emphasis on the need to work on issues related to gender equality and tobacco.

It was highlighted that a gender approach to tobacco control policy is important as it identifies the ways in which the health risks, experiences and outcomes of tobacco use are different for women and men and for boys and girls. The session zeroed in on the fact that the tobacco industry has segmented the tobacco market by gender roles and this fact needs to be duly considered while addressing tobacco control issues. The session also explained that the preamble of the WHO FCTC commits governments to mainstream gender into tobacco control policies and programs. The M POWER roadmap through a gender lens was discussed. Monitoring tobacco use by gender and ensuring gender–sensitive prevention policies was highlighted. Offering help to women and girls of all ages to quit tobacco and warning the women and girls about the dangers of tobacco were discerned as important aspects for comprehensive tobacco control.

“The exposure to Second Hand Smoke is a gender equality issue” said Soon Young-Yoon. The session called for a consolidated effort on working through issues related to gender equality and tobacco.

Dr. Niki Shrestha

Junior Public Health Professional

Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

World Health Organization, South-East Asia Regional Office

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


“Why do we study the cost of smoking?” asked Hana Ross of the participants in her session on Tuesday. Ross went on to explain to the participants that it is essential to study the cost of smoking to assess the economic impact of smoking behavior on society, individuals, state budgets and finally on business employers.

Ross provided examples of the various classifications of the cost of smoking: direct healthcare costs versus indirect cost of smoking; external and internal costs of smoking, tangible and intangible costs, avoidable and unavoidable costs etc. She then demostrated how to estimate excess healthcare costs due to smoking and provided case studies from countries in Asia and Europe.

-Naseeb Kibria, Institute for Global Tobacco Control

Monday, July 28, 2008


“Media advocacy is an extremely powerful tool for advocates to use in working for change,” explained Mark Hurley, Director, International Communications from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), during his session Monday which described working with journalist for tobacco control advocacy. Hurley emphasized the importance of: incorporating media strategy into the work plan upfront, researching your target audience, determining which media is most effective for delivering the message, understanding who your opponents are, and how to promote your story. Hurley stated that the key to a successful media campaign is to have the same message conveyed through multiple channels, through both paid and earned media.

Following Hurley’s presentation was a case study by Zhong Lu, CTFK advocacy coordinator China, highlighting activities undertaken in China such as: workshops for journalists, partnerships with both governmental and non-governmental organizations, and actions surrounding smoke free Beijing.

-Naseeb Kibria, Institute for Global Tobacco Control


Citizens of NYC are more supportive of a smoke-free workplace law than their own beloved Yankees – such a headline grabbed the attention of even the international participants in the room. Nicole Veatch, Director of Primary Research at CTFK, captivated the audience’s interest this morning by illustrating creative ways of using polling data to spread tobacco control messages to the media. Veatch also presented a case study from Nebraska where polls were used to show that even a republican governor could raise taxes and get reelected. Stressing that it was important to develop a strategy around a specific issue and then “test test test” those messages, Veatch drove her point home.

Dr. Toker Erguder of Turkey followed Veatch’s message with a rundown of the current tobacco control measures in his country. The Turkish website, Havani Koru, made everyone grin as tons of smiley faces floated by on the main page suggesting that clean air is so cheerful. Others were tickled to see Turkey was able to get both their top super model and a famous football player to endorse their smoke-free campaign.

Comments were a plenty including Dr. Dinesh Bhatnagar from India on the need for enforcement and the potential use of air monitoring in all countries including Turkey. Daria Khaltourina, of Russia emphasized the need to learn from your polls – if the polls show lack of support you might need to do some more education on the issue.

Whether it was baseball or football, Veatch’s and Toker’s message was a homerun hit among the fans today.

-Lisa Hepp, Institute for Global Tobacco Control