PHILADELPHIA — The American Association for Cancer Research applauds the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for its newly launched comprehensive tobacco control program.
Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary, along with Howard K. Koh, M.D., M.P.H., HHS assistant secretary for health, and Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, announced a new department-wide tobacco initiative at a press conference held at George Washington University this morning.
The larger, more graphic warning labels that HHS will soon require on all cigarette packs were unveiled as part of a wider plan aimed at creating a society free of tobacco-related death and disease. The four-pronged strategy backing this goal includes evidence-based tobacco interventions; change of social norms around tobacco use; reform of HHS systems and resources to lead by example; and, acceleration of research to expand the science base.
As emphasized in a 2010 AACR policy statement on tobacco and cancer, tobacco kills more than 5 million people per year worldwide and nearly half a million people in the United States alone.
Tobacco use takes an economic toll too: the estimated total annual economic burden of cigarette smoking, including direct health care expenditures and productivity losses, is more than $190 billion in the United States alone.
“Although tobacco use in the United States has decreased remarkably over the last half century, an estimated one in five U.S. adults still uses tobacco on a regular basis,” said Roy S. Herbst, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the AACR’s Task Force on Tobacco and Cancer. “It’s as if the American public has become immune to anti-tobacco efforts. To see the HHS undertake this initiative is very encouraging and will, we hope, make new progress in combating this enormous public health problem.”
The AACR and HHS both stress that preventing the initiation of tobacco use is as important as fostering cessation efforts. The AACR’s Ninth Annual Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference concludes today in Philadelphia and featured several sessions pertaining to the underlying science of tobacco addiction, use, cessation and carcinogenicity.
“Science has established that tobacco use can cause an astonishing 18 different cancers — not just lung cancer,” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the AACR. “Tobacco-related cancers are preventable. We must work together to build upon the renewed efforts of the HHS to implement effective evidence-based policies where they exist and to galvanize research activities where evidence is slim.”
The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 32,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 18,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. Including Cancer Discovery, the AACR publishes seven major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. AACR journals represented 20 percent of the market share of total citations in 2009. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists.