HHS Tobacco Strategic Plan Launch: Stakeholder Call with Assistant Secretary Dr. Howard Koh

by Emilia Dunham

Reporting on the stakeholder call with Assistant Secretary of Health Dr. Howard Koh




The Department of Health and Human Services unveiled a comprehensive tobacco strategy just this morning.

For more information on the announcement, go their website.

This afternoon, there was a stakeholder call with Assistant Secretary of Health Dr. Howard Koh. Dr. Koh discussed how resources from the FDA, Recovery Act and Affordable Care Act are being used in a new strategy to combat tobacco. After Secretary Sebelius listed tobacco as a priority, there is now a new framework.

Pillars/goals of the Department’s framework include

1)      Engage public and change social norms around tobacco use

2)      Continue support for communities in evidenced tobacco control interventions ($250 million into tobacco control into states and communities to be used)

3)      Expand funding of programs like Medicaid for comprehensive coverage of tobacco control. Part of this includes reducing health disparities and reaching out to vulnerable populations.

4)      Advance knowledge and research

More about the strategyGraphic images that depict the dangers of smoking will be required on all tobacco products and advertisements as mandated in a 2 year timeline in which cigarettes cannot be manufactured without the new graphic health warnings.

The FDA will be choosing 9 health statements and 3 pictures for their warning labels, and will be evaluating their consumer efficacy. These are available for public viewing. Tobacco companies will have until September 2012 to show on their products when these images and statements will be mandated. The website also directs you how to make public comment on these regulations.

HHS conference policy means that communities hosting HHS events or conferences must have sufficient smoke-free policies which covers workplaces and restaurants, but excludes casino and bar policies.

Published by Emilia Dunham, MPP, MBA

Emilia Dunham is currently a Project Manager at MassHealth/Department of Public Health, and formerly the Project Manager of the Life Skills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Emilia worked at Fenway for 7 years, first as a Quality Control and Regulatory Assistant mainly involved with biomedical HIV prevention trials, before serving as the Program Associate for The Network for LGBT Health Equity, a network instrumental in many national LGBT health policy improvements. She is also involved with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, serving as a Steering Committee member and the Policy Committee Co-Chair, an organization largely responsible for the recent passage of the Trans Rights Bill. Additionally she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Co-Chair of the Recommendations Committee. Emilia received a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. There she served as President of the LGBTQ student group where she planned programs such as Pride Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and AIDS Week. In addition, she advocated for LGBTQ inclusive policies and programming on campus such as a Gender Neutral Housing program, an LGBTQ Center and the expansion of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Emilia recently earned a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration in health policy and management from the Brandeis Heller School School for Social Policy and Management.

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