The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the National Institute of Cancer of the United Mexican States, and the Commission of National Institutes and High Specialty Hospitals joined forces today in Mexico City, signing an agreement to develop prevention and control programs to reduce tobacco use in the United States and Mexico, with a focus on Mexican and Mexican-American youth.
MD Anderson President Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., the Commission of National Institutes and High Specialty Hospitals Commissioner, Romeo Rodrίguez, M.D., Sc.D., and the National Institute of Cancer of the United Mexican States Director General, Alejandro Mohar, M.D., officially signed the agreement as a commitment from the institutions to create a comprehensive evidence-based smoking and tobacco-cessation campaign together targeting the Mexican population. Mexico’s Secretary of Health Salomón Chertorivski signed as a witness of honor at the ceremony.
DePinho says the collaboration is the first flagship project from the cancer prevention and control “platform” of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program focused on converting academic knowledge into effective anti-smoking strategies for the population in Mexico and across Texas. The unprecedented Moon Shots Program is an aggressive and milestone-driven effort initially targeting eight cancers with an end goal of dramatically accelerating the reduction of all cancer deaths. The platforms are supporting infrastructure, technologies or processes that will support all of the moon shots. Cancer control in the population is a major emphasis for the Moon Shots Program.
“This agreement will advance tobacco prevention and cessation efforts drawing on the experience and expertise of both partners, while providing new opportunities to develop more progressive programs, services, policies and initiatives for both countries,” DePinho said. “Although our initial approach is to start with Texas and Mexico, the overall goal is to develop a model that will scale for the United States and other Spanish-speaking countries around the world.”
The Mexico and Texas Tobacco Control Initiative’s intent is to contribute to legislative and policy initiatives and collaborate on clinical and community services and educational programs that can be implemented in neighborhoods, educational institutions, places of employment and public establishments.
Rising incidence of young smokers creates an adult problem
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable cancer deaths, killing more than 1,200 Americans every day. According to the 2012 U.S. Surgeon General's report, 3.6 million American middle and high school students smoke cigarettes including one in four high school seniors. Every day, more than 3,800 young people start smoking and many will become lifelong customers, accounting for the 94 million current and former smokers in the United States alone.
The United States is not alone in this concerning epidemic. According to data published in the 2006 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Global Youth Tobacco Survey, 27% of youth – ages 13 to 15 – in Mexico City smoke. Of that same age group, 60% are exposed to second hand smoke in public places, and 46% are exposed to second hand smoke at home.