The research center will work to advance California’s tobacco control goals through policy approaches aimed at the toxic legacy of commercial tobacco use in outdoor and indoor environments.
The toxic legacy of commercial tobacco hurts outdoor and indoor environments throughout California. Cigarette butts and e-cigarettes litter beaches, parks, and urban streets, leaching chemicals into soil and water. Thirdhand smoke, the chemical residue from tobacco products, remains on surfaces, in dust, and in the air of indoor environments for months or even years after smoking stops.
This pollution disproportionately affects vulnerable communities; contributes to health disparities; creates financial burdens for government, businesses, and citizens; and poses a continual risk to human health. New policies are one way to address these issues, but policymakers must be informed on what is needed for effective change. The new Policy Research Center for Tobacco and the Environment will provide that data to policymakers.
San Diego State University’s Policy Research Center for Tobacco and the Environment is holding a launch celebration on September 6th. Funded by California’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program, the Policy Research Center is a partnership between SAY San Diego, a nonprofit that supports children, families, and communities throughout San Diego, and SDSU’s Center for Tobacco and the Environment, an interdisciplinary group of researchers whose work focuses on the impact of tobacco on indoor and outdoor environments. Over the next four years, SAY and SDSU will work together, alongside local community partners, to identify tobacco-related policy priorities and plan and conduct targeted research projects to collect relevant data to inform elected officials.
Mary Baum, the Senior Program Director for Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Prevention Program at SAY San Diego, co-leads the Policy Research Center project team with Georg Matt, PhD, Professor of Psychology at SDSU who has more than 20 years of experience investigating the impact of smoking in indoor and outdoor environments.
“This collaboration between SAY and SDSU is a natural extension of our many years of working together to address the disparities related to tobacco use in San Diego County,” Baum said. “This work has great relevance to the school and community settings in which we work.”
“Our Policy Research Center will conduct cutting-edge research on the toxic legacy of commercial tobacco products in indoor and outdoor environments,” Matt said. “The Center’s work will identify commercial tobacco policy research needs, respond to them, and disseminate policy research that directly informs local, state, and national tobacco policy agendas.” This approach will help create change through policies where communities need it most.
The first projects, which were identified by local community partners, include protecting outdoor environments from the effects of tobacco product waste, protecting indoor environments from the toxic chemicals in second- and thirdhand smoke, and using restorative practices as alternatives to suspension in schools.
In addition, the Center will serve the community and academic arena by training and mentoring emerging researchers, community members, and organizations.