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Surgeon General, AACR Leaders Urge Increased Investment in Research to Tackle America’s Tobacco Epidemic

March 4, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Stemming the tide of tobacco-related deaths and suffering and promoting public health will require renewed control efforts and further research to better understand initiation, addiction and the countless harmful effects of tobacco. These points were emphasized by U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A., along with other experts at a March 1 Capitol Hill briefing that was hosted by the AACR.

Benjamin, speaking to congressional aides and representatives from the health research and advocacy communities, praised the public health efforts that have led to the remarkable decline in smoking rates over the past four decades. However, she noted that this decline has stalled in recent years. About one in five American adults still smoke. She cited the ongoing need for more scientific research on tobacco to drive the development of more effective policies and treatments. Benjamin’s message on Capitol Hill follows her comprehensive report “How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease,” which was released in late 2010.

“An increase in tobacco-related research, commensurate with the enormous toll that tobacco takes on human health, is needed,” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the AACR and moderator of the briefing.

Tobacco use is the world’s leading cause of premature death, causing 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 87 percent of all lung cancer deaths.

“Federal funding has been instrumental in the progress we’ve made thus far in reducing tobacco use and the knowledge we’ve gained about the harmful effects of tobacco use,” Foti said. “It is alarming that Congress is considering funding cuts to this vital, lifesaving research.”

Future funding for the National Institutes of Health and other agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services is currently in flux as Congress considers budgetary cuts.

The AACR will host a second tobacco-related briefing on Wednesday, March 16, when Lawrence R. Deyton, M.S.P.H., M.D., director of the Center for Tobacco Products at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will provide an update on the implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Deyton will be joined by other esteemed scientists who will discuss the research needs related to the Tobacco Control Act.

Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.) and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A.

AACR Chief Executive Officer Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.) and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A.

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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 33,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 18,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. Including Cancer Discovery, the AACR publishes seven major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. AACR journals represented 20 percent of the market share of total citations in 2009. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists.

Media Contact:
Rachael Cullins
(202) 898-6499

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