· Tobacco Control
USA, by State
|Jump to full article: Baltimore (MD) Sun, 2008-08-02|
Intro: In his column "Up in smoke" (Commentary, July 28), Patrick Basham grossly mischaracterized the National Cancer Institute's American Stop Smoking Intervention Study for Cancer Prevention (ASSIST).
I was the senior scientific editor for the National Cancer Institute's monograph that evaluated the study, and I know that, contrary to Mr. Basham's assertions, ASSIST was found to be effective. . . .
And Mr. Basham absolutely mischaracterized ASSIST as a "traditional smoking prevention" project.
It was, in fact, a groundbreaking project that put into effect evidence-based anti-smoking strategies involving increased tobacco taxes, changes in state policies to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and promotion of nonsmoking as a behavioral norm.
ASSIST was aggressively attacked by the tobacco industry, and some of its secret documents show that the industry viewed the program as a threat to its interests because of the program's focus on tobacco control policy change.
Mr. Basham's argument falls off the tracks when he objects to tobacco control policies that are supported by a mountain of evidence - including restrictions on marketing tobacco to kids, expanded access to smoking cessation therapies, clean indoor air laws and higher taxes on tobacco products.
It would be a grave mistake to abandon approaches that have been successful in Baltimore, in Maryland and across the country.
Maryland has not spent its money from the legal settlement with big tobacco on unrelated items such as broadband cable networks, as Patrick Basham says some states have. Instead, by targeting a significant portion of that money for tobacco prevention, treatment and research, we have made measurable strides in reducing the harm caused by cigarettes.
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