More than 50 years after the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking definitively linked cigarettes and lung cancer, the world remains plagued by preventable deaths and disease caused by tobacco use. MD Anderson recently held the Texas Tobacco Summit as a call for cooperation among state and national tobacco control organizations — both traditional and nontraditional — working toward the same goal: preventing cancers and deaths linked to tobacco use and addiction.
Hosted by the institution’s Office of Health Policy, the summit featured an impressive lineup of cessation and control experts leading multiple sessions and panel discussions on the history, dangers and consequences of tobacco use. Most importantly, the summit addressed what can be done to stop it.
Lewis Foxhall, M.D., vice president of Health Policy at MD Anderson, and Ron DePinho, M.D., MD Anderson’s president, set the tone for the two-day gathering with opening remarks that zeroed in on the purpose and acceleration of efforts to end tobacco use.
Speakers from the University of Southern California’s Institute for Global Health expounded on lessons learned, successes and the progress made since the 1964 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, as well as the 2014 report released in February. This year alone, tobacco is expected to kill 6 million people worldwide. In the next half-century, its use will result in 500 million deaths, mostly in low- and middle-income countries.
Other opening-day sessions included an in-depth presentation on the history of tobacco prevention and control in Texas by the Texas Department of State Health Services and presentations from leaders of the Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Sciences (TCORS) and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Leaders from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Texas Department of State Health Services participated in a panel discussion focusing on tobacco’s costs to employers and the state. Ernest T. Hawk, M.D., M.P.H., vice president and head of MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention and Population Services closed the day with “Looking Toward the Future of Tobacco Prevention and Control in Texas.”
Day two of the Summit began with panel discussions from MD Anderson behavioral scientists on tobacco use and special populations; geographic, cultural, and financial disparities and mental health disparities. Other panels targeted the tobacco and youth epidemic with experts from the University of Texas School of Public Health, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Piney Associates, Research and Health Policy.
Existing tobacco prevention and control plans and initiatives at the local, regional and national levels were discussed by leaders from the American Lung Association, the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health.
Afternoon sessions included round-table discussions in priority areas, including cessation, e-cigarettes and alternative tobacco products, youth engagement and community partnerships. Mark Moreno, MD Anderson’s vice president for governmental relations, moderated a panel on actions that need to be taken in the future to eliminate tobacco use at the local, state and national levels.
Also highlighted at the summit was MD Anderson’s EndTobacco Program, which is targeting the smoking and tobacco epidemic that will kill more than 480,000 people in the United States this year, and is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the nation, as well as 30% of cancer cases.
EndTobacco was developed under the cancer prevention and control platform of the Moon Shots Program, an effort to dramatically accelerate the pace of converting scientific discoveries into clinical and population-oriented advances that significantly reduce cancer deaths. The platform is focused on preventing and reducing cancer through screening, early detection and survivorship.
EndTobacco is MD Anderson’s institutional commitment to end the suffering of nicotine addicts through public policy, education and community-based services. Conference attendees had the chance to vote on EndTobacco priorities and learn about the program, and how they can collaborate and help solve the tobacco problem.