Established in 2002, the Center for Health Promotion and Evaluation (CHPE) is directed
at understanding and improving health behaviors, particularly among young people.
Most of our research currently focuses on reducing tobacco consumption, but we have
also conducted research on a wide range of issues, including school violence, binge
eating, dietary restraint, attitudes toward breastfeeding, and body mass index in
Despite decades of warnings from the Surgeon General’s office, smoking is still the
single most preventable cause of death and disease in our society.1,2 It is difficult to overestimate the costs of smoking: Approximately 6,000,000 children
and teens alive today will die of smoking-related disease. Ultimately, smoking kills
more people than alcohol, illegal drugs, murders, car accidents, AIDS, and suicides
combined, with thousands more dying from spit tobacco use. 3
Our research on smoking among children and teens focuses on a number of programmatic
themes, including the following:
- What causes children of different ethnic groups and genders to start to smoke? There
is strong evidence that the variables that prompt smoking initiation differ by gender
- Why do certain minorities (African American, LGBT) have greater difficulty quitting
on their own and experience tobacco-related health disparities relative to other ethnic
groups and the general population? Much of our work focuses on tailoring smoking prevention
and cessation programs for special populations.
- Why are smoking cessation programs (which are effective with adults) generally not
helpful for teens? Are these programs even acceptable to teen smokers?
- Healthcare providers have been urged to assess and assist their patients in quitting
smoking. However, little research has explored physician interventions with teens.
We are currently conducting a longitudinal study of the effectiveness of healthcare
- We have also developed and evaluated a program for training pediatricians to intervene
with parents who smoke.
- We are also exploring the trajectories of tobacco use as children advance in their
habit. Why do some children maintain low levels of use, whereas others escalate their
In this largely community-based research, supervised by Dr. Leslie Robinson, our overarching
goal is to identify the basic variables that drive the update of tobacco and serve
to maintain addiction. By the same token, we want to study those individuals who have
quit in adolescence, in order to understand what special resources these youth drew
upon. Further, we are interested in special populations (e.g., African Americans,
sexual minorities) that are apparently more vulnerable to the addictive effects of
1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures, 2012. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@epidemiologysurveilance/documents/document/acspc-031941.pdf. Accessed June 6, 2012.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The health consequences of smoking: a report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC;2004. http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/2004/complete_report/index.htm Accessed June 9, 2010.
3. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Toll of tobacco in the United States of American.
http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0072.pdf?utm_source=factsheets_finder&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=analytics. Accessed 8/20/2012.