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Release: June 7, 2000

(EDITORS: The seminar and workshop are not open to the public, but reporters are welcome to attend any session that is of interest.)

UI to host workshop on tobacco-related health issues

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Tobacco continues to cause disease and death worldwide. Researchers recently reported that smoking plays a significant role in the development of gum disease, and Surgeon General David Satcher has noted a "silent epidemic" of poor oral health in the U.S., particularly among minorities and the poor, groups with high percentages of smokers.

Scholars and health professionals from around the world will meet at the University of Iowa June 11-16 to discuss a variety of issues related to tobacco consumption, including marketing to youth, state control of tobacco, tobacco-related oral disease, and methods of intervention to help smokers quit.

Kicking off the week-long series of meetings and discussions will be a two-day seminar June 11-12, "Tobacco, Culture and Public Policy," which will examine tobacco consumption in China, Hungary, Iceland, and the United States. Participants will compare national perspectives on such issues as new trends in marketing tobacco to women and youth and the cross-cultural meaning of smoking, including its association with sport and freedom and its imagery in film and video.

"Understanding the similarities and differences in marketing, promotion, and consumption globally is important if we are to come to terms with what the World Health Organization has termed the tobacco epidemic," said Christopher Squier, coordinator of the week-long series, and associate dean for research and graduate studies at the UI College of Dentistry.

The two-day seminar is planned as a prelude to a four-day workshop, "Tobacco and Oral Disease: Strategies for Dental Professional Interventions." The workshop will include a series of presentations designed to take participants from an explanation of the problem of tobacco use through an examination of the prevalence of tobacco-related oral disease to a discussion of the successes and limitations of various methods dentists and hygienists can use to help patients who smoke kick the habit.

Complete schedules for both the seminar and the workshop are available on the Web,

Jay Semel, director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, which is co-sponsoring the event, said the seminar and workshop will provide the setting for important discussions between academics and professionals from a variety of disciplines. "This is an opportunity to share knowledge across disciplines so that we might develop new solutions to a very serious health problem in this country and abroad," he said.

In addition to Squier, UI participants in the seminar and workshop include: Peter Damiano, D.D.S., associate professor of preventive and community dentistry; Georgia Johnson, D.D.S., professor of periodontics; John Lowe, M.D., chairman of the department of community and behavioral health; Keith (Mac) Marshall, Ph.D., professor of anthropology; Michelle McQuistan, a third-year dental student; Jeff Murray, M.D., professor of pediatrics; Judy Polumbaum Ph.D., an associate professor of journalism; Paul Pomrehn, M.D., professor of community and behavioral health; Nancy Slach, R.D.H., an instructor in the department of periodontics; Stephen Wieting, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology; and Haiyan Zhang, a graduate student in the College of Business.

Other national and international participants include representatives from Beijing Hospital, Harvard University, the Hungarian Dental Association, the Hungarian League Against Cancer, Indiana University, Iowa Department of Human Services, King's College Dental School in London, Mayo Clinic, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, Oregon Research Institute, St. Luke's Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, San Diego State University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Florida, and Yale University