Global Tobacco Control

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Online Program Overview

Tobacco use is one of the world’s deadliest – and most preventable – public health crises. Each year, over 7 million deaths are attributable to direct tobacco usage. Furthermore, an estimated 1.3 billion people worldwide use tobacco – with 80% living in low- and middle-income countries.1

With the global tobacco epidemic being driven by a powerful, multinational industry that targets vulnerable populations, it puts adolescents, lower-income individuals, the LGBTQ community, and those with a history of substance abuse, mental health problems, incarceration, or military service at greatest risk. As tobacco ends up killing over 50% of its users, it results in a heavy health and economic burden for both tobacco users and the countries they live in.

This online course will provide an introduction to the theory and practice of tobacco control, with an emphasis on evidence-informed policy strategies. Led by Dr. Vaughan Rees, Director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, this program provides participants with unparalleled access to the latest cutting-edge science on tobacco control.

Participants will develop a context for the challenges in tobacco control, including the history of the global tobacco pandemic and the industry’s ongoing efforts to oppose control efforts. From there, the participants will explore emerging trends, targeting disparities (gender, income, global region), understanding why vulnerable populations are at higher risk, and how to translate this evidence into tobacco control priorities and policies. Additionally, faculty will help participants navigate the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the world’s first multilateral treaty focusing specifically on a public health issue; a critical tool for anyone working in tobacco control.

This is a highly interactive online course that will include case studies, small break-out groups, dynamic discussions, and the opportunity to develop a policy memo. Participants will also work closely with others in the course from their own global region, allowing for deep personal discussions of issues and sharing of ideas, and the development of an enduring professional network outlasting the program.

Fighting the Global Tobacco Pandemic

There are many challenges in the fight against the global tobacco pandemic. Strategies to advance tobacco control policies, such as marketing bans and increased taxes, often face interference from the tobacco industry. In the U.S. and many other developed countries, combatting tobacco usage has faced a new challenge with the proliferation of vaping products, pushing public health experts to new levels of innovative “end game” strategies.

Despite obstacles, there are many successes and effective strategies in establishing tobacco control. For example, the advancement of new policies such as smoke-free public spaces, advertising bans, and increased purchase age has resulted in historic low rates of tobacco use among youth in many developed countries, leading to reductions in lung cancer and other causes of premature death.

In particular, evidence-informed approaches can achieve strong results in reducing tobacco usage. WHO’s MPOWER framework are the six pillars to tobacco control designed to guide evidence-informed approaches:

  • Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies
  • Protect people from tobacco use
  • Offer help to quit tobacco use
  • Warn about the dangers of tobacco
  • Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
  • Raise taxes on tobacco

Participants will learn about the latest trends in MPOWER interventions, and will examine how they can be most effectively applied in their country.

1 Tobacco, World Health Organization

Objectives & Highlights

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss the practice and principles of evidence-informed approaches to tobacco control, in the context of the challenges facing developing countries in the twenty first century
  • Understand the history and driving factors in the global tobacco epidemic and major successes and challenges to the present time
  • Critically evaluate evidence on the effectiveness of key MPOWER interventions
  • Describe current or emerging disparities in tobacco use in a selected global region and identify best practice policy responses

Program Highlights

  • Access to the latest and most cutting-edge research and trends in tobacco control
  • Highly personalized format that includes small break-out groups focused on participants’ global region and its specific tobacco control challenges
  • Opportunity to outline an evidence-based policy response to address the needs of a high risk population and receive feedback from Harvard faculty
  • Understand the translation of evidence to policies and programs to support participants’ own country’s needs
  • Develop an understanding of the basis of a best-practice tobacco control program

Credits and Logistics

Continuing Education Credit

All participants will receive a Certificate of Participation upon completion of the program.

Who Should Participate

Stakeholders involved in tobacco control from across the globe, including:

  • Health providers
  • Local and regional NGOs (e.g. public health, adolescent health, cancer, lung/respiratory, heart advocacy organizations)
  • National government ministries (e.g. health and finance)
  • Representatives of key populations groups (e.g. women, youth, employees)
  • State and local government

This includes – but is not limited to – individuals with the following titles:

  • Community liaison
  • Data analyst
  • Epidemiologist
  • Government liaison
  • Health advisor
  • Health consultant
  • Health officer/Services coordinator
  • Physician (e.g. adolescent health, community health)
  • Policy advisor
  • Policy analyst
  • Policy director
  • Research scientist
  • University faculty/Academic