Denver, Colo., November 9, 2010 —
In recognition of her outstanding contributions to public health through science-based advocacy, Debra Kelley, MS, received the American Public Health Association’s 2010 David P. Rall Award for Advocacy in Public Health. The award was presented at the Association’s 138th Annual Meeting and Exposition in Denver.
Bauer is the director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She formerly worked as director of the Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention at the New York State Department of Health, where she also worked for seven years as the director of the state’s Tobacco Control Program.
She was instrumental in the enactment and successful implementation of New York’s statewide Clean Indoor Air Act in 2003 and the $1.25 per pack increase in the state cigarette excise tax in 2008. She engaged partners and stakeholders and worked aggressively within the health department to double funding for tobacco control in 2006 from about $43 million to $85 million per year.
Bauer developed the evaluation plan to demonstrate the public health impact of New York’s statewide Clean Indoor Air law and worked with colleagues to design and implement studies demonstrating strong public support for the law and high compliance with the law. The studies also showed reductions in secondhand smoke among non-smoking bar and restaurant workers and the general population of non-smokers as well as reductions in emergency department admissions for acute myocardial infarction as a result of the clean indoor air law. These studies contributed to the enactment of similar laws in other states and countries.
Bauer conceived, developed and led New York’s effort to change federal policy with regard to the sale, packaging and labeling of over-the-counter nicotine medication and wrote the citizen petition filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to revise the agency’s policies to make these products more accessible to smokers. She collaborated closely with the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and, in partnership with the American Cancer Society, the state Association of Substance Abuse Professionals and other organizations, was instrumental in establishing new regulations to require all state-licensed substance abuse treatment facilities to treat tobacco dependence along with other substance use and to maintain tobacco-free facilities and campuses.
Among her many publications was an August Journal of the American Medical Association article documenting a 40 percent drop in smoking among Florida middle
school students and an 18 percent drop among the state’s high school students in the two-year period following implementation of the Florida Pilot Program on Tobacco Control. She has led initiatives to encourage the movie industry to stop depicting cigarette smoking in films and to limit tobacco advertising in publications that are distributed to school libraries.
After graduating from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Bauer then earned a master’s in political economy from Rutgers University, an MPH in family health from Columbia University and a PhD in epidemiology from Yale University.
“In her leadership, Dr. Bauer challenges institutions and individuals directly or indirectly supporting tobacco use, including retailers, bar owners, the tobacco industry, the Food and Drug Administration, the movie industry and others, with strong public indictments necessary to overcome bureaucratic paralysis and profit motive,” said Guthrie Birkhead, MD, MPH, deputy commission of the New York Health Department’s Office of Public Health, in a letter nominating Bauer for the Rall award. “Dr. Bauer combines disciplined science with crafty strategy and hard work to achieve the respect of her colleagues and adversaries and documented improvements in public health.”