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Release: April 1, 2002

NOTE TO EDITORS: April 1-7 is National Public Health Week

UI College of Public Health will not accept funds from tobacco industry

University of Iowa College of Public Health faculty members unanimously approved a resolution banning acceptance of research funding from tobacco manufacturers or tobacco-related companies.

The resolution, adopted by the college's primary faculty members at a meeting Feb.15, states, "The College of Public Health will not accept any grant or anything else of value from any tobacco manufacturer, distributor or other tobacco-related company."

"Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States," said James Merchant, M.D., Dr.P.H., dean of the UI College of Public Health. "To accept any funding from the tobacco industry would clearly run counter to the mission of public health and the college."

Each year tobacco use accounts for approximately 5,000 deaths in Iowa and more than 430,000 deaths nationally. Tobacco causes more deaths than alcohol, AIDS, illegal drugs, car crashes, fires, murders and suicides combined.

"The resolution illustrates the college's unified commitment to tobacco cessation and prevention," added John Lowe, Dr.P.H., professor and head of the UI department of community and behavioral health and director of the Iowa Tobacco Research Center. "It also supports a general policy endorsed by the deans of the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH) last year."

In October 2001, the deans of the ASPH, the organization that represents the 31 accredited schools of public health nationwide, including the UI College of Public Health, unanimously voted to reject any funding from tobacco companies. The vote enabled the distribution of grant monies from the American Legacy Foundation (Legacy), a national public health foundation established by the 1998 tobacco settlement. Legacy provides ASPH funds for the Scholarship, Training, and Education for Tobacco Use Prevention (STEP UP) project.

"Grants awarded nationally through this program will be used to develop and enhance tobacco-related training and research," said Merchant, who chairs the STEP UP project for ASPH.

The College of Public Health policy rejecting tobacco funds complements another collegiate resolution adopted in the fall of 2001, which states, "The College of Public Health faculty and staff, when using collegiate funds to entertain, will make every effort to support restaurants that are 100 percent smoke-free."

Other tobacco-control projects undertaken by the College of Public Health include operating Quitline Iowa, a statewide, toll-free smoking cessation hotline that can be reached by calling (866) U-CAN-TRY (1-866-822-6879), and partnering with Clean Air for Everyone (CAFE), a public awareness effort conducted by the Johnson County Tobacco Free Coalition, to support the establishment of smoke-free restaurants in Johnson County.