The School of Public Health at Georgia State University has agreed to help the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness conduct research on the prevalence of smoking and attitudes toward second-hand smoke in Fulton, the most populous county in Georgia.
The school will receive $485,000 for the first year of work on the 3-year project.
The effort is being funded by a PICH grant awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to Fulton County. PICH, which stands for Partnerships to Improve Community Health, is one of the CDC's efforts to partner with local health departments across the country to address major causes of death and disability.
Georgia State's School of Public Health will focus on several areas:
- Conducting surveys of public attitudes and behaviors related to smoking,
- Using specialized equipment and trained researchers to assess air quality in restaurants and bars, as well as to assess the prevalence of smoking in places of worship, parks and the public areas of multi-family dwellings, and
- Providing technical assistance and strategic planning to Fulton health officials.
Dr. Rodney Lyn, an associate professor of health management and policy and the principal investigator at Georgia State, said Fulton County will identify two communities, in addition to the city of Atlanta, for the surveys.
"Ultimately, our role is gathering evidence to inform efforts aimed at improving the environment around tobacco use and creating more smoke-free spaces," Lyn said. "It's about gathering evidence to educate stakeholders and decision makers."
Cigarette smoking remains a leading cause of serious, preventable disease in the United States, with adults reporting at least 14 million major medical conditions attributable to smoking, including cancer, chronic bronchitis and emphysema, with many smoking-related ailments falling under the umbrella of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In recent years, more medical conditions have been linked to smoking, including diabetes mellitus and colorectal and stomach cancer. In Fulton County, nearly 12 percent of the population suffers from diabetes, and the county reports it has the largest number of people affected by chronic diseases and chronic disease risk factors of any county in Georgia.
The School of Public Health is home to the Tobacco Center Of Regulatory Science (TCORS). The center takes a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the human and economic factors that contribute to tobacco use and seeks to generate research to inform the regulation of tobacco products to protect public health.
Several faculty and staff from TCORS will work on the Fulton County project, as well as Dr. Roby Greenwald, an assistant professor of environmental health, who has developed unique sampling systems for assessing exposure to air pollution.
To learn more about the work at TCORS, go to: http://tcors.