This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

UB tobacco study garners
extensive media coverage

  • After a study on international tobacco use led by UB faculty member Gary Giovino was published in The Lancet, media outlets from all over the world rushed to pick up the story.

Published: August 23, 2012

It’s been a busy week for Gary Giovino.

Chair of the Department of Community Health and Behavior, School of Public Health and Health Professions, Giovino is lead author on the largest-ever international study on tobacco use.

The study, published in the premier British medical journal The Lancet late last week, revealed that the use of tobacco in developing countries is booming, thanks to the influence of powerful pro-tobacco forces. Results demonstrate an urgent need for policy change in low- and middle-income countries, says Giovino, an international authority on tobacco use who worked with UB’s Office of University Communications to publicize the report.

Not surprisingly, the media—both from the U.S. and around the world—rushed to pick up the story.

The New York Times, The,, Reuters, TIME and NPR were among the hundreds of news outlets worldwide reporting on the study.

News coverage also was produced by CBS Evening News, Fox News, NBC News, Agence France Press, Voice of America and Futurity. Stories appeared on television stations from New York to Los Angeles, and in news outlets in India, Canada, the Philippines, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Africa. Locally, articles appeared in the Buffalo News and Business First.

Giovino also was interviewed on PBS Newshour.

Giovino points out that in their news stories, many reporters cited both the Lancet publication and a recent decision by the Australian High Court banning company logos on cigarette packages and requiring instead that packages bear startling pictures of cancer victims.

That decision, as well as the Lancet publication and its dissemination through international media outlets, has given new life to the urgent need for international tobacco-control policies, he says. He adds that Laurent Huber, one of his colleagues in the global tobacco-control movement who directs the Geneva-based Framework Convention Alliance, told him that “The message out there had been that we have solved the tobacco problem and it’s done.

“This paper demonstrates that that is not at all the case.”

Before joining the UB faculty, Giovino was chief of epidemiology in the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But he says that leading the international effort to put together this study was particularly challenging: He chaired multiple meetings at World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, involving as many as 30 public health officials from 20 different countries.

The purpose of those meetings was to design an effective questionnaire that would provide researchers with the data they needed to assess global tobacco use worldwide. Working with people from such culturally diverse backgrounds was exhilarating and challenging at once, Giovino says, noting that sometimes consensus was tough to reach.

“I decided if I ever get called up to the diplomatic corps, now I can do it,” he jokes.