Public Affairs & Media Relations
Center for Global Health observes World No Tobacco Day
News Center | May 28, 2013
|Dr. K. Michael Cummings (left) and Kevin Wiley, Jr., discuss the looming issues of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in third-world countries and why healthcare professionals have to get involved.|
The following is a Q&A with Kevin Wiley, Jr., program coordinator for MUSC's Center for Global Health.
When did you join the center and why are you excited to be here?
I joined the Center for Global Health on April 22, 2013, at a very important time in its early history at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). The freshness and promise of the Center for Global Health is what excites me every day. The people here are amazing. We work hard, collectively, toward a common goal. I’ve seen this across MUSC as well—no one’s confined to working in their “cylinders of excellence,” and everyone’s open to collaboration.
Why is MUSC getting involved in World No Tobacco Day?
We should reflect the growing interconnectedness of our global community. At times we feel like our involvement and contributions do little to change the world around us. In truth, our small input has a rippling effect we often do not see immediately, but the change is there. It’s important to educate people about initiatives like World No Tobacco Day to show we, no matter where we are, do make a lasting difference. To abstain from public health initiatives like World No Tobacco Day is a direct affront to progress we so direly need in our own state, country and abroad.
Why did you decide to observe the day by having a video done with Dr. K. Michael Cummings?
It is hard to imagine doing a video on World No Tobacco Day without soliciting the expertise of Dr. Cummings (professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences). His name came up when I first pitched the idea to our staff here in the Center for Global Health. The response was if I could reach him, than go for it. I researched Dr. Cummings and was blown away by the amount of work he has done as a researcher and activist, fighting “Big Tobacco.” He’s testified against the tobacco industry in high-profile cases and on Capitol Hill. I was lucky enough to meet with Dr. Cummings prior to our interview. Our brief discussion led to an oral policy analysis of ongoing efforts to minimize tobacco usage and the need for better translation of research into efficacious clinical practices. I hope to work with him in the future as the Center for Global Health continues to grow and evolve here at MUSC.
How would you like MUSC employees and public to get involved?
If you look at health indicators for South Carolina, you wouldn’t believe how bad we’re actually doing. It’s not because of low-quality service provision; South Carolina has some of the best medical facilities and personnel in the country. The cause is a deficiency in public health education and prevention efforts, not limited to South Carolina, but to the U.S. as a whole. MUSC employees and the public should work to inform themselves on adverse health issues beyond their normal day-to-day functions. By doing this, we’d have more people talking about the importance of, say, health screenings and other preventive measures. Winston Churchill once said of Americans, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else.” We should help improve each other, not just for our health, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Where are some interesting sites to go to learn more?
It is important to first look at data provided by our own MUSC faculty by visiting The International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project, led by Dr. Kenneth Michael Cummings, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and co-director of Tobacco and Policy Control at Hollings Cancer Center. After gaining a foundational grasp of tobacco control issues, I would then guide people to the World Health Organization’s World No Tobacco Day webpage to view the importance of global efforts to ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. The data presented on their page is easily digestible for all readers and shows the ever-growing importance of being informed on these issues. Finally, I think it is important to get involved in the immediate community here in Charleston and all of South Carolina by visiting the South Carolina Tobacco Free Initiative. On all three sites, understanding how the data and information touch home are important for me. What’s more, I can use what I’ve learned from these sites to have a more constructive, informative conversation when discussing tobacco control and policy-related issues.