The Center for the Study of Tobacco (CST) has developed a strategic plan that outlines the priorities for the CST for the next 5 years (2017-2022). The strategic plan includes the CST’s roles in addressing tobacco control in Arkansas. With a critical mass of faculty, partnerships, and student trainees, the CST can fill significant research gaps related to tobacco use and exposure in Arkansas. The strategic plan will be evaluated annually to assess milestones and re-evaluate resources needed to reach its milestones.
Since the publication of the 1964 Surgeon General’s report, Smoking and Health, enormous progress has been made to reduce tobacco use and related diseases worldwide. However, this public health threat kills nearly half of its users. In the United States alone, nearly 480,000 people die from tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke. In the state of Arkansas, there is no doubt that tobacco use is one of the biggest public health threats, killing nearly 4,915 annually. Cigarette smoking is a major cause of the leading causes of death in Arkansas – heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, and stroke. Arkansas ranks third in the nation in cigarette smoking prevalence (24.7%) and second in smoking-attributable cancer mortality (39%). Ongoing coordinated efforts are needed to address this public health threat in a state where life expectancy is lower than the national average. Clinical, community and policy-based interventions have been implemented to reduce tobacco-related morbidity and mortality worldwide, in the United States, and in Arkansas. Yet, there is still a need to understand how we can reduce the toll of tobacco and engage faculty, students, and organizations in addressing this complex challenge.
The CST has four strategic priorities which are:
- Infrastructure development and sustainability
- Integration and innovation in research
- Teaching, training, and mentoring future leaders
- Translation and dissemination
Infrastructure Development and Sustainability
The infrastructure development during the first five years will be critical to early successes. Important success indicators include faculty and staff hiring, partnerships, and sustained operational funding.
- Goal 1. Secure additional funding to support the operations and general functions of the center.
- Goal 2. Recruit and hire three faculty members and staff who can help facilitate the goals of the center.
- Goal 3. Create a demand for and participation in tobacco control research and curriculum by increasing the visibility of the center’s work using multiple forms of media.
- Goal 4. Develop and maintain an external scientific advisory board that can provide advice on the scientific directions and opportunities to advance the center goals.
- Goal 5. Expand lab resources to support student research assistants.
Integration and Innovation in Research
Conducting and facilitating research is the primary function of the center. The infrastructure development during the first five years will be critical to early success in the quantity, quality, and applicability of the research to Arkansans. In order to facilitate innovative research that is integrated across disciplines, it is important to 1) increase awareness of research opportunities, the research conducted by faculty members, and cross-cutting research in the field; 2) facilitate opportunities to conduct novel and impactful research relevant to the problem of tobacco in Arkansas; and 3) encourage the collaborative publication and grant opportunities. Important success indicators include publications of collaborating faculty members, the number of grants of collaborating faculty members, and faculty participation and engagement in tobacco-related research.
- Goal 1. Increase awareness of novel research and opportunities for integrated and innovative research.
- Goal 2. Facilitate collaborative working relationships among faculty and engage new faculty in tobacco control research.
- Goal 3. Engage student interest in tobacco control research to foster new leadership in the field.
- Goal 4. Develop agreements with key partners to facilitate secondary data analysis and research in the state and globally.
Teaching, Training, And Mentoring Future Leaders
Our public health workforce is dwindling and the content expertise in critical areas that impact chronic diseases in the U.S. is needed among new professionals entering the field. Students often receive on-the-job or in the field training in tobacco control, but this area of science requires years of expert skills and competency building. To address content expertise and gaps in the public health workforce, the CST will implement teaching, training, and mentoring opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. Important indicators of success will include the number of students participating in courses and training programs.
- Goal 1. Equip masters and doctoral students with the research skills and competencies to address tobacco and related diseases in the state and globally through course curriculum.
- Goal 2. Equip undergraduate students with the skills and competencies to address tobacco related diseases through an intensive summer research training program and in collaboration with local Universities (e.g. University of Arkansas, Little Rock, Philander Smith, University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, Arkansas Baptist College, Eastern College of Health Vocations; ITT Technical Institute)
- Goal 3. Create online course curriculum for the regulatory science certificate program to reach students in Arkansas.
Translation and Dissemination
The translation of research findings into public health use is important to disease reduction. Translational research activities aim to take what is learned in the lab, the clinic, or in community studies and use the information to inform optimal practices for improving health outcomes in communities. It is also important to disseminate what is learned through research so that the information can be used to address health issues in the community. Indicators of success will include persons who visit the website to obtain resources, number of presentations, number of grant submissions and secured grants.
- Goal 1. Develop annual reports based on the findings from research generated by collaborated faculty.
- Goal 2. Conduct community presentations to discuss research findings and how the information can be used for tobacco control.
- Goal 3. Write and secure grants that will support translational research.
- Goal 4. Create resource page that provides information and tools for researchers and communities to address tobacco control in the state.
If you would like a copy of the strategic plan, please contact us.
Pebbles Fagan, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Professor and Director, Center for the Study of Tobacco
Department Health Behavior and Health Education
Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
4301 West Markham Street, Room 6201B, #820
Little Rock, AR 72205