Jeremy Craig, 404-413-1357
Public Relations and Marketing Communications
ATLANTA - Michael Eriksen, dean of Georgia State University’s Institute of Public Health, will outline the global picture of tobacco usage and control at a federal meeting reviewing how the U.S. can partner with others to stop smoking and tobacco use around the world on Jan. 29.
The Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health (ICSH) meeting is chaired by the Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, M.D. and will be held in Washington, D.C., bringing together federal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug and Administration among others.
“The meeting is an opportunity to showcase Georgia State’s work in tobacco control and to help influence federal actions on tobacco which is the leading cause of preventable death in the world – more than HIV/AIDS, more than obesity and more than malaria,” Eriksen said.
“Tobacco use kills 6 million people a year, and the product is addicting, but still legal.” he continued. “There is a lot of intrigue and controversy about why the problem exists and what can be done about it. Different countries address the problem in different ways, with the U.S. having some successes, but many other countries are much more aggressive.”
Georgia State is leading the way in efforts towards eliminating tobacco usage globally. Eriksen, the former head of the CDC’s Office on Smoking, is a world-renowned expert on tobacco usage and control, and is the first author of The Tobacco Atlas.
The book, of which the fourth edition was released in 2012, is a comprehensive look at the global picture of tobacco usage and efforts to curtail it. It is available at tobaccoatlas.org.
ICSH hearings are open to the public and the proceedings are published in the Federal Register, where they can be used by Congressional committees and other policy makers to make decisions.
Eriksen said a major issue facing the United States and its role in reducing and preventing the use of tobacco globally is that the nation hars not ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a treaty that addresses the problem.
The treaty has been ratified by 176 countries, and was signed in 2003 during the Bush administration, but has never been sent to the Senate for ratification.
“The ideal outcome of this meeting is that the visibility and publicity from the gathering could result in the White House sending a request for ratification of the Framework Convention to the Senate for its consideration,” Eriksen explained.
Because ICSH meetings are open to the public, Eriksen said representatives from the tobacco industry will attend. The public will have an opportunity to weigh in toward the end of the meeting.
“It will be a lively event,” he said. “I’ve looked at the list of attendees and with heavy tobacco industry representation, there should be an interesting dynamic.”
For more about Georgia State’s Institute of Public Health, visit publichealth.gsu.edu.
Jan. 24, 2013