Tuesday Keynote Will Outline Steps to Eliminate Tobacco Use

One of the seminal public health achievements of the last two centuries in the United States is the reduction in tobacco use from its peak in the 1950s, when almost half of all adults smoked, to 12.5 percent today.

Michael C. Fiore, MD, MPH, MBA
Michael C. Fiore, MD, MPH, MBA

“Despite this enormous progress, we still lose a half a million Americans every year as a result of diseases directly caused by cigarette smoking, and many of those diseases involve the thoracic cavity,” said Michael C. Fiore, MD, MPH, MBA. “This is a solvable problem.”

A nationally-recognized expert on smoking cessation, Dr. Fiore will outline tangible steps to reduce tobacco use to near zero by the end of the decade in the Tuesday, May 17, Keynote Series presentation, Unfinished Business: The Achievable Goal of Eliminating All Tobacco Product Use in the United States by 2030. He is the Hilldale Professor of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin, and founder and director of the UW Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention.

The session, with information relevant to clinicians, scientists, and policymakers, will take place 8:15-9 a.m. PT in Room 7-8 (South Building, Exhibition Level), Moscone Center.

Tobacco use directly causes one out of five deaths in the United States and is the cause of virtually all cardiovascular and thoracic disease, Dr. Fiore noted. But health care professionals may underestimate the impact of tobacco because the majority of their peers are not tobacco users.

“If you’re going to be an appropriate thoracic scientist or clinician, you have to address tobacco use,” Dr. Fiore said. “A lot of people think the tobacco problem is solved because few people at the ATS 2022 International Conference will be smokers. It’s now a behavior primarily among the poor, the least educated members of our society, and those with comorbid conditions. Because we don’t see it in our own social circles does not mean the problem is solved.”

While a growing emphasis has been put on e-cigarettes and vaping, combustible tobacco use continues to be a significant health issue in the United States.

“Half a million people are killed by cigarettes each year, so we need to maintain our primary focus on what causes most of the harm,” Dr. Fiore said.

He will highlight the most effective evidence-based recommendations for clinicians to help tobacco users quit, as well as what policymakers can do to create an environment that discourages smoking.

“There is a simple solution, and that is to implement the existing legislative authority through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reduce the nicotine content of all tobacco products to near zero. This will essentially eliminate tobacco use by 2030 because most people won’t use tobacco products — cigarettes, e-cigarettes, smokeless — if those products don’t contain nicotine,” Dr. Fiore explained.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, in part, grants authority to the FDA to regulate the nicotine content of tobacco products to non-addictive levels.

Dr. Fiore was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2012 and is the recipient of the Hilldale Professorship at the University of Wisconsin, Bowdoin College’s Common Good Award, and the Institute of Medicine as a Profession Physician Advocacy Merit Award.

He served as chair of the panels that produced each edition of the United States Public Health Service Clinical Practice Guideline: Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence (1996, 2000, and 2008); as chair of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Subcommittee on Tobacco Cessation of the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health; and as co-director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Program Offices, Addressing Tobacco in Managed Care and Addressing Tobacco in Healthcare Research Network. Dr. Fiore has been the principal investigator for multiple National Institutes of Health-funded research projects on tobacco dependence and optimal interventions for tobacco users, including five consecutive NIH Center grants.

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