Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs
Section Newsletter
Winter 2008

Chair's Column

ATOD Section Chair’s Column - February 2008


Happy New Year to all!  I hope 2008 is going great for you already!  I’d like to begin by thanking all of you who participated in ATOD Section activities at the Annual Meeting in November.  I think our Section scientific sessions, business meetings and social events were all a huge success thanks to you.  All who participated, planned or funded these events — especially all our dedicated Section leaders who played such an important role — please accept my congratulations and sincere gratitude.  Of course, all of us are most grateful to our sponsors who made critical contributions to Section socials and other activities because we couldn’t do these things without your active support.  We really hope we can count on you to be ongoing partners with the ATOD Section in the future.  Your support allows us to expand the scope of our activities as a Section and develop new initiatives in the alcohol, tobacco and other drugs field.


Congratulations to all our ATOD Section award winners who were featured at our Awards Ceremony and in our last newsletter!  Please let me add a personal note of congratulations and support for your important contributions to the ATOD field and thanks for your ongoing commitment and dedication to the ATOD Section of APHA.  Our collective success is truly a function of the work you’ve done whether you’ve just recently joined the Section, or devoted your entire career to focusing public attention on these issues and reducing the devastating health effects of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use.  I also want to share my personal thanks with Diana Conti, our past Section chair and chair of the APHA Intersectional Council, who ran for Association treasurer.  Although she didn’t win the election, she spent lots of time campaigning and representing ATOD to countless other members of the Association and bringing our issues front and center among our colleagues — we can all be proud of how well she represented us!  Diana, thanks so much for your many years of service to ATOD and to APHA, and to everyone who helped with her efforts, thank you too!


About the time you get this newsletter, you’ll have seen notices about the Call for Abstracts for the 2008 Annual Meeting.   You can find the notice online at   ATOD abstracts were due Feb. 8, 2008.  If you have any questions, please contact our wonderful Program Committee Chair Linda Bosma, whose info is listed in the call for abstracts.  Thanks again to Linda and the great committee she’s leading for all their work on compiling a very impressive scientific program at the Annual Meeting.  As always, we need many volunteers to help review abstracts, so if you’re willing to devote some time to ensuring that we have the strongest possible program again next year, please contact Linda immediately.  We can always use help from experienced Section members in compiling the program at our mid-year meeting in April, so if you’re interested in helping in this way, please let her know that, too.  Thanks for all your interest in and service to the field of ATOD!


Are you interested in getting more involved in the ATOD Section?  Perhaps running for one of our leadership positions?  We have several vacancies for the upcoming year and welcome new input.  Fran Stillman, our Section Nominating Committee chair, would love to hear from you.  Please contact her ASAP at  You can find more info about these offices at but you better act quickly if you’re interested.  Fran is also coordinating our efforts to recruit Section members to serve on various APHA-wide boards and committees, so if you have an interest in getting more involved in the Association, please contact her soon about that, too.  Thanks for your interest and willingness to serve your colleagues in public health, and the people of the United States.


I want to commend Wegmans for their decision to stop selling tobacco products.

Wegmans supermarket chain has taken an extraordinary step to protect public health by announcing that effective Feb.10, 2008, it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in all of its stores.  All of us in the public health community should congratulate Wegmans for putting the health and wellness of their customers ahead of profits from selling deadly and addictive tobacco products.  Wegmans has set an excellent example for other supermarkets and retailers to follow.  Wegmans has acknowledged that tobacco products are no ordinary consumer product, and that they are the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people, sickening millions more and costing the nation nearly $100 billion in health care bills each year.  It is encouraging that a growing number of businesses, such as Wegmans and hotel chains that have adopted smoke-free policies, are joining the public health community in seeking to reduce tobacco use and its devastating consequences.  Please take the time to support Wegmans decision by writing them a quick note telling them you’re glad they have established this voluntary policy and have taken strong leadership on this important health issue.   Click here to thank Wegmans for being champions of public health by no longer selling tobacco products.   Tell them you appreciate their decision to put health and lives ahead of profits from selling deadly and addictive tobacco products. 


Feel free to encourage your local supermarket or pharmacy to take similar action.  Please encourage the growing number of businesses that have joined the public health community in seeking to reduce tobacco use and its deadly consequences by telling them you’re happy they’ve decided to put health ahead of profits.  Wegmans operates 71 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland.   Click here to find a Wegmans store near you.


A quick plug for one of our sister organizations, the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT).  The SRNT Annual Conference will be in late February in Portland, Oregon.  Feel free to attend if you’re interested in learning more about the latest research findings from a broad range of tobacco control and nicotine addiction issues.  Get details on the meeting at


Finally, I want to point you toward our new ATOD Section Web site at   Please bookmark the new URL and check back periodically to see highlights or news from the Section.  We really are excited about the possibilities for our new Section Web site and hope you’ll be willing to share ideas for content that will make this site as useful as possible for all of you.  Feel free to check back for abstract submission info or other updates.  If you have questions about the site or want to offer suggestions for useful content, please contact Mark Parascandola, one of our Section Councilors who is championing this effort, at or (301) 496-8584.  Thanks, Mark!


As always, I’m happy to invite you to get more involved in our Section!  Feel free to contact any of our Section Leaders listed here depending on your particular interests or expertise, or any of the individuals listed in the following articles — we’d all be glad to hear from you and get your help on our respective initiatives.  If you have a topic that’s particularly important to you and that you think should be on the radar screen of the ATOD Section but isn’t yet, feel free to call me at (301) 496-0275.  I’ll be glad to hear from you and discuss how we can advance the issues by working together. 


Take it Easy & Enjoy Life!

Bob Vollinger

FDA Regulation Reducing Tobacco Harm Is Not Scientifically Proven

The central issue with respect to proposed Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco products is whether supply-oriented FDA approved cigarette product design changes will actually save lives or make cigarettes safer. As was noted in the prestigious 2001 Institute of Medicine report entitled: Clearing the Smoke: Assessing the Science Base of Tobacco Harm Reduction:

"For the most part, the data are insufficient to accurately describe the relationship of tobacco use and disease formation at the level of detail that would establish all causal agents involved or the exact dose-response relationship. The characteristics of this relationship vary among diseases and are affected by differences in compensation and actual exposure and by inter-individual or population differences."

This key finding continues as recent peer reviewed literature indicates that there is no scientific consensus and little evidence that link particular ingredients in cigarettes to specific morbidities and mortalities.

Yet, at the core of the proposed current legislation to allow FDA to regulate tobacco products are various product design approaches that purport to make cigarettes "safer." Underlying this effort is the current ideology of harm reduction, which posits that the least harm should occur. Unfortunately, since there is no evidence that harm will be reduced at all by removing or reducing cigarette ingredients, the current FDA legislation is really what political scientists call symbolic public policy. The legislation is designed to appear to be accomplishing a public goal when it really is not.

Fortunately, there are several scientifically verified and viable demand reduction approaches as noted by the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control and in other scientific tobacco studies to reduce tobacco consumption including: Canadian-style warning labels, higher tobacco taxes, tobacco cessation programs, effective tobacco counter-marketing efforts, and smoke-free requirements for public places, particularly in workplaces. Washington, D.C. health insiders and others need to shift their emphasis from the non-proven FDA tobacco regulation harm reduction approach to advocate for programs scientifically proven to reduce tobacco use.




Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Michael Givel and presents his views rather than the views of APHA or the ATOD Section. The Institute of Medicine issued a more recent report in May 2007 that also addresses this topic, Ending the Tobacco Problem: A Blueprint for the Nation. APHA official policy on this topic may be viewed at:

Protect the Judgment Against Big Tobacco

Take Action:  Protect the Integrity of the U.S. Department of Justice RICO Case Against Big Tobacco!


On August 17, 2006, Judge Gladys Kessler ruled in favor of the government in its case against big tobacco, ruling that the tobacco companies violated civil racketeering laws and defrauded the American people by lying for decades about the health risks of smoking and their marketing to children.  Judge Kessler stated: (The tobacco companies) "marketed and sold their lethal product with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted. The evidence in this case clearly establishes that Defendants’ have not ceased engaging in unlawful activity... Their continuing conduct misleads consumers in order to maximize Defendants revenues by recruiting new smokers (the majority of whom are under the age of 18), preventing current smokers from quitting, and thereby sustaining the industry.”

Although the case has been appealed, it remains good law, and the defendants have not challenged any of the factual findings.  The court has placed the judgment allowing the remedies to proceed on hold, pending appeal; however, that does not affect your ability to use the court’s findings.  Don’t let this important ruling and recommended remedies fade into the background, or – worse yet – allow the industry to negotiate a deal that would include erasing or making the findings private and confidential.  The public has the right to know!

The litigation was just the beginning. How the government proceeds in the case, and what tobacco control advocates do with the findings and remedies, is critical to preserving the intent and importance of the case: to hold big tobacco accountable for wrongdoings by requiring the industry to change its behavior and provide remedies for all of those who suffered as a result of its fraudulent, unlawful business practices.

Here are some action steps to let your voice be heard!

1.   Write to the Department of Justice

Tell Attorney General Michael Mukasey not to sell us out on this case, and let him know you expect the Department to pursue the strongest remedies and to hold the industry accountable for 50 years of defrauding the American public. Strongly urge him not to settle or capitulate on the remedies or negotiate any deal that would allow the industry to wipe away Judge Kessler’s findings.

Michael Mukasey, Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

or via e-mail at

Tell Acting AG Keisler not to sell us out on this case, and let him know you expect the Department to pursue the strongest remedies and to hold the industry accountable for 50 years of defrauding the American public.  Strongly urge him not to settle or capitulate on the remedies or negotiate any deal that would allow the industry to wipe away Judge Kessler’s findings.

Peter D. Keisler, Acting Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

or via email at

2.    Write to your Congressional representatives:

Tell your senators and representative that you want big tobacco held accountable for 50 years of defrauding the American public.  Urge him or her to oppose any government settlement or capitulation on the remedies.  Let them know the findings of Judge Kessler are crucial and that the public must be made aware of the tobacco industry’s history of deception and fraud.

Office of Representative (Name)

United States House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

Or visit to find the exact address for your U.S. Representative

Office of Senator (Name)
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Or visit to find the exact address for your Senator

You can also write to/copy the state home office to be sure staff in D.C. and his or her home state are educated and aware of your concerns!

3.   Write to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)  The DHHS was the Justice Department’s client agency that it represented in the tobacco litigation.  Ask them to contact the Department of Justice and make it clear that the case is to be aggressively pursued, especially in light of recent scientific reports from the Surgeon General and the Institute of Medicine on deadly effects of secondhand smoke.

Michael O. Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

(877) 696-6775

4.   Write a Letter to the Editor of your local paper

Look for opportunities to keep these findings in the public eye.  If your community or state is facing opposition to a proposed passage or implementation of smokefree law or tobacco tax, be sure to share the findings from the case to illustrate that the industry cannot be trusted and are not “good corporate citizens.”  You can review the resources below for key quotes from Kessler’s findings that would be most appropriate.

For summary reports on the case, the findings, and the remedies, visit:

Cynthia Hallett

ATOD Governing Councilor

Climate Change: Our Health in the Balance

                  National Public Health Week 2008     

"Climate Change: Our Health in the Balance"

The health effects of climate change will take center stage during National Public Health Week, April 7-13, 2008. As part of the week-long observance, "Climate Change: Our Health in the Balance" APHA will lead the charge in helping people, communities, and families recognize that adapting to climate change and mitigating its impact is critical not just for the health of our planet, but for the health of the people in our nation and around the world.

Changes in our climate are causing more severe weather events. Extreme weather conditions such as heat waves, high winds, snowstorms, floods and hurricanes have the potential to dramatically affect the health and safety of both individuals and our communities. Changing ecosystems allow for emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases such as dengue or malaria, which are changing the spectrum of disease risks affecting populations. In poorer parts of the world, drought and floods often force people to move away from lands no longer producing enough food, often resulting in hunger and malnutrition. Moreover, contaminated drinking water can result in outbreaks of diarrheal diseases, leading to dehydration or death.

Few Americans will ever see the melting Greenland ice cap up close, or interact with an arctic polar bear facing extinction as its habitat melts. But local public health professionals around the country increasingly will be dealing with the impacts of climate change on the ground, every day. Join APHA as we work to create a healthier planet. Visit the official National Public Health Week Web site at view the climate change blog and brochure, sign up to be a National Public health Week partner, or add your week's event to the national calendar. For more information about National Public Health Week, contact

ATOD Section Awards

2007 ATOD Award Winners

Left to right: Norman Giesbrecht, Lifetime Achievement Award; Diana Conti, Section Leadership Award; Dan Beauchamp, Slade Memorial Advocacy Award; Leonard Lamkin, Community-Based Advocacy Award; and Nabarun Dasgupta, Best Student Abstract Award.

Congratulations to all!


2007 ATOD Awards Presented

2007 ATOD Awards Presented


The Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Section presented its 2007 Section Awards to five of its luminaries at the APHA 135th Annual Meeting and Exposition held in Washington, D.C. last November.  


“These awards are intended to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievements in the ATOD field,” said Bob Vollinger, chair of the ATOD Section.  “The awards also acknowledge the diverse subject topics in our field including advocacy, education, policy, prevention, research and service delivery.”


The Lifetime Achievement award, which recognizes an individual who has had a long and distinguished career in the ATOD field and has also provided a lifetime of significant contributions went to Dr. Norman Giesbrecht, a professor at the University of Toronto Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.


The Section Leadership Award, which recognizes a Section member who makes significant contributions to the ATOD Section and field, went to Diana Conti, executive director of Parca, a private, nonprofit organization serving people with developmental disabilities and their families based in Burlingame, Calif.


The Community-Based Advocacy Award acknowledges leadership in community-based ATOD programs that affect the community environment.  This award went to Leonard Lamkin, executive director of the Chicago Patient Safety Forum.


Dr. Dan Beauchamp, a professor at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill School of Public Health, won the Slade Memorial Advocacy Award.  The award is named for one of the pioneers in the ATOD field, the late Dr. John D. Slade.


The Best Student Abstract Award went to Nabarun Dasgupta, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill School of Public Health.


We appreciate our award winners’ contributions and congratulate them on receiving these prestigious awards,” Vollinger said.


Andre Stanley

ATOD Awards Chair

Third National Housing and HIV/AIDS Research Summit

Third National Housing and HIV/AIDS Research Summit -- March 5-7, 2008


Examining the Evidence: The Impact of Housing on HIV Prevention and Care


The National AIDS Housing Coalition (NAHC), working in collaboration with the Department of Health, Behavior and Society of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is pleased to announce the third National Housing and HIV/AIDS Research Summit, a meeting of leading health, housing and social service researchers and policy-makers, to be held March 5–7, 2008, at the Pier 5 Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Housing and HIV/AIDS Research Summit series is an interdisciplinary, interactive forum for the presentation of research findings on the relationship of housing status and HIV prevention and care, coupled with dialogue on public policy implications and strategies among researchers, policy-makers, and providers and consumers of HIV housing and services. 


This is a time of explosive growth in the literature on housing and health, and the theme of Summit III is Examining the Evidence: The Impact of Housing on HIV Prevention and Care. NAHC invites abstracts presenting the results of scientific research, program evaluation, community-based interventions, and public policy strategies that reflect this theme. For more information go to:  Questions can be directed to

Join the Newly Formed Genomics Forum

Members of the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Section are invited to join the new Genomics Forum of APHA.  This Forum will be one of the first to represent a new structure within APHA that was created to address cross-cutting issues and facilitate communication across Sections and Special Primary Interest Groups (SPIGs).  By joining the Genomics Forum, APHA members retain their affiliation with their Sections.


Genomics – the study of genes and how they relate to each other and with the environment – is increasingly a public health issue.  For example, expanding genomic research is shedding new light on patterns of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use and its consequences; however, these findings must be complemented by a policy and public health perspective if they are to be used to improve individual and population health.  Additionally, multiple government agencies are placing substantial funds into clinical applications such as pharmacogenomics (i.e. personalized medicine) without assessing this agenda from a public health perspective and its relative impact on individual rights and community health.  To ensure that personalized medicine means public medicine, APHA must be at the forefront of conversations about how genomics will be used in relationship to population health in America and worldwide.  This Forum will contribute to the realization of that goal.


With the support of the Community Health Planning and Policy Development and Maternal and Child Health Sections, the Genomics Forum was approved as an official APHA component in November 2007.  Over 130 APHA members have currently enrolled in the Genomics Forum, representing a growing, interdisciplinary group of individuals including practitioners, researchers, students and community members from state and federal governmental agencies, advocacy groups, academia and health care organizations.  The Forum is committed to a diverse membership from APHA Sections, SPIGs, and Caucuses and hopes to work with the ATOD Section and its members on issues of mutual interest.


The Forum currently communicates via listserv, in regular conference calls, and through the development of a Web site.  Activities are based on the needs and interests of our members.  All are invited to participate in one of the general membership calls and to join any of the Forum’s committees. 


Please visit our Web site to see a schedule of upcoming activities and to sign-up for the Forum:


ATOD Section Web Site

APHA will now be hosting the Section Web sites.  The ATOD Section Web site is available at: We will be adding content over the next few months.  If there is anything you would like to see there, please contact Mark Parascondola at  Check the site out and bookmark it for updated information relevant to our Section.



Program and Abstracts Available


The program and abstracts from the 135th APHA Annual Meeting, Politics, Policy & Public Health, are still available online from APHA at the following Web page:

You can access the ATOD-specific program at the ATOD Section site: 


Join APHA and the ATOD Section

To join the ATOD Section as a new APHA member, go to the APHA Web site at  When you join APHA, you can choose the ATOD Section as your primary or secondary Section. To join the Section if you are already an APHA member and would like to change or add a SPIG or Section, send an e‑mail to Note that you should include your membership ID # (you can find it on the mailing label on your American Journal of Public Health or The Nation's Health; it's the first 7-digit number)!  Special note to Academics - Tell your students that student registrations are available at a huge discount!


ATOD Listserv Available


The ATOD Section has set up a listserv to help members communicate with each other on matters relating to policy, practice and research in the areas our Section covers. The listserv is a way to quickly inform others of new developments, solicit assistance on matters of ATOD policy and its implementation, alert our members to opportunities about upcoming events, conferences, programs, research, opportunities or anything of interest. Control of the listserv will remain exclusively with the ATOD Section, and all listings will be kept strictly confidential. Messages will be disseminated only after the sender and message content have been "vetted" as appropriate for our Section. To join the listserv, e-mail your name and e-mail address to Listserv Coordinator Marilyn Daley at If your e-mail address changes, or you wish to unsubscribe, e-mail Marilyn as well. To provide a message for posting e-mail the material to Marilyn. You do not have to be a member of the Listserv to post messages.



Newsletter Articles Requested


This is your newsletter, so please send us information you would like to share with your colleagues. We're interested in summaries of conferences, commentaries on articles, research or policies and announcements about conferences. If you have important news, we'd like to hear about it and publish it in the APHA-ATOD Section Newsletter. Please e-mail your news to The deadline for our Spring issue will be May 15, 2008.

ATOD Section Leadership

ATOD Section Leadership



Bob Vollinger

Chair Elect

Ann Mahony

Immediate Past Chair

Fran Stillman


Mary Brolin

Section Councilors

Lawrence Brown


Dionne Godette


Leonard Lamkin


Gary Najarian


Mark Parascandola

Governing Councilors

Tom Greenfield


Johnetta Davis-Joyce


Cynthia Hallett


Donald Zeigler

Annual Program Chair

Linda Bosma

Moderator Coordinator

Shereen Khatapoush

Poster Monitor

Open Position


Social Event Coordinator

Open Position

Membership Chair

Carol Schmitt

Booth Coordinator

Carol Schmitt

Awards Chair

Andre Stanley

Newsletter Editor

Bernie McCann

Listserv Coordinator

Marilyn Daley

Program Handout Coordinator

Vinitha Meyyur

Web Site Coordinator

Mark Parascandola

Nominations Chair

Fran Stillman

Action Board Representative

Lenny Lamkin

Fundraising Committee

Cynthia Hallett

Inter-Sectional Council Steering Committee Chair

Diana Conti

Publications Board Representative

Norman Giesbrecht