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February 11, 2002

Consortium gets $15M for anti-tobacco efforts

By Ron Sauder

Three leading national health organizations have committed $15 million to establish the Tobacco Technical Assistance Consortium (TTAC) in the Rollins School of Public Health.

Funded by the American Cancer Society, the American Legacy Foundation and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the consortium will help states and communities develop and run effective programs to prevent and reduce tobacco use in the ongoing battle against smoking-related disease and death.

“We feel honored to be chosen for this pivotal role in the fight against the nation’s leading preventable cause of death,” said public health Dean James Curran. “Diseases caused by tobacco use kill about 400,000 Americans a year.”

Dearell Niemeyer, executive director of TTAC, said the new consortium is designed to train persons who are responsible for tobacco control programs at the state and local level.

“We have a rapidly growing need for increased technical capacity in the tobacco use prevention and control field,” Niemeyer said. “As a result of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the states and the tobacco industry, there is an infusion of funding. Now we need to make sure that we have the people, the tools and the skills in place to use these new resources effectively. The consortium can help.”

The majority of TTAC’s funding will be used to provide hands-on services to assist communities in reaching their goals for reducing the harm that tobacco use causes to their citizens.

“The consortium will work with national, state and local partners to improve methods for delivering quality technical assistance,” said Kathy Miner, associate dean for applied public health and principal investigator. “Ultimately, in our communities this can translate into changing how tobacco is promoted, marketed, sold and used.”

The consortium will gather and/or develop the necessary resources to fill existing gaps in training at state and local levels. Plans include training programs and consultations, along with an electronic library of resources, to help health professionals and other community leaders strengthen their skills in:

• drafting effective tobacco-control laws and regulations.

• using broadcast media to deliver effective messages.

• developing culturally appropriate programs.

• conducting meaningful smoking-cessation projects.

• building community coalitions.


“Georgia is an excellent example of how many of the states are using the Master Settlement Agreement funds to improve the health of their citizens,” Curran said. “[The state] has committed $15.8 million this year specifically to reduce tobacco use. In addition, Gov. Roy Barnes has led the state through an extensive planning process to produce Georgia’s first comprehensive plan to reduce all cancers.

“The implementation of the Georgia Cancer Coalition,” Curran continued, “will establish Georgia as a national leader in the research, treatment and prevention of cancer. The Rollins School of Public Health, in partnership with The Winship Cancer Institute, intends to be a valued resource in helping the state to achieve this goal.”

Michael Johns, executive vice president for Health Affairs, noted that tobacco use causes many types of cancer other than lung cancer.

“As a head and neck cancer surgeon, I am painfully aware that tobacco contributes to cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx and larynx, as well as the esophagus and bladder,” Johns said. “Tobacco use also is linked to heart disease and chronic lung disease. If this new consortium is able in any way to reduce smoking and other tobacco use, especially by children and teens, it will make an important contribution to the fundamental mission of Emory Healthcare, which is, quite simply, to make people healthy.”