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Tuesday, February 7, 2006

  • Prof leads worldwide tobacco project
  • Power outage cancels classes
  • Board of governors meets today
  • New admissions official, and more
Chris Redmond

'Rejection Awareness Week'


Prof leads worldwide tobacco project -- adapted from the Arts Research Update newsletter

Psychology professor Geoffrey T. Fong (left) is leading a major international study designed to understand and evaluate national-level tobacco control policies being introduced in more than 100 countries over the next few years. Fong is Chief Principal Investigator of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project, which involves some 40 researchers from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, and China.

Through surveys conducted on smoking populations internationally, the ITC project is evaluating the effectiveness of stop-smoking strategies such as warning labels, advertising and promotion bans, higher taxes, and protections against second hand smoke.

ITC is the only research study designed to evaluate the policies listed in the first ever international health treaty, known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. "It's important to note that the world's first treaty on health was not on HIV/AIDS, influenza, SARS, or tuberculosis;" Fong says. "It was on tobacco use, because of the devastation that tobacco use is projected to cause." Indeed, whereas 100 million people died of tobacco use throughout the world in the 20th century, tobacco is projected to cause 1 billion deaths in the 21st century, with over 70 per cent of the death toll occurring in developing countries.

The ongoing results of the ITC study are as a primary source for discussion and debate at the Conference of the Parties of the FCTC, under way this week in Geneva, as delegates began to set the terms of the treaty.

According to Fong, "Findings from the ITC Project are likely to play a role in the protocols that arise from the FCTC. The ITC Project is establishing the evidence base for FCTC policies, and this evidence base will be valuable to countries that have not yet ratified the treaty as well as to countries that have ratified the treaty and are looking for evidence that will guide the strength and nature of the policies that they will implement.

"The ITC Project uses state-of-the-art evaluation tools and research design that are valuable in measuring the effects of tobacco control policies. With the recent addition of China to the ITC Project, we are now conducting our evaluation surveys in countries inhabited by about 40% of the world's tobacco users."

He says: "The underlying philosophy of the ITC Project is that we want to conduct research that is directly applicable to world health issues. I would say that tobacco use, including the relationships between major tobacco companies and developing nations, is one of the primary international health, policy, and governance issues of our time. Most of all, we want to make sure that government policies and public spending on tobacco control are based on real evidence that shows they can lead to reductions in the harms due to tobacco use."

Evidence to date does show that tobacco control policies in Canada and other countries are working. The ITC Ireland Project, for example, has found that the comprehensive smoke-free law in Ireland, which started in March 2004 (to worldwide fanfare and astonishment, all Irish pubs are now smoke-free), has been a huge success.

"The Ireland law has led to huge, near-total reductions in exposure to second-hand smoke (e.g., in the pubs, from 97 per cent to 5 per cent, compared to those in the UK over the same period of time, which remained constant at 97 per cent)," Fong noted. "Moreover, support for the ban among Irish smokers increased dramatically after its implementation. The majority of Irish smokers favour the ban, with 81 per cent of them saying that the ban has been 'a good thing' for Ireland."

According to Fong and his colleagues, the findings of the ITC Project provide critical information for policy makers: "Evidence from good science gives policy makers the courage to do what they know is right."

Fong has presented ITC research findings at important policy-making settings over the last year, including high-level policy meetings involving a number of health ministers in the EU and in South America. He was also invited to give a presentation in February 2005 at the World Health Organization in Geneva. He returns to Geneva this month to present ITC findings at the Conference of the Parties, where more than 120 countries were represented.

The ITC Project has received more than $15 million in grant funding so far to conduct these international projects, including, recently, one of the largest grants to date from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In addition, the ITC Project has received funding from the U.S. National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research UK, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, and the Canadian Tobacco Control Research Initiative. Funding has also been received directly from the governments of Malaysia, South Korea, and China.

"We are in constant need of funding in order for us to sustain and expand the ITC Project to important regions of the world," Fong said. "The next few years represent a critical period for efforts to reduce the global tobacco pandemic, and we hope that we can obtain the necessary funding so that our findings can contribute to those efforts."

Power outage cancels classes

Classes were cancelled in the central science buildings yesterday as the result of an early morning power failure.

By late morning it was getting more than chilly, and dean of science George Dixon decided to send staff members home and announce that classes wouldn't be held through the afternoon and evening anywhere in the Faculty of Science, except for the optometry school.

Rick Zalagenas, director of utilities and maintenance, described the experience as "quite a day", noting that the trouble originated about 6:10 a.m. in an electrical substation below the Dana Porter Library, "caused by problems with the internal power supply to the high voltage loop breaker control system".

At first, he said, "about half of the buildings on campus were affected. Everything except CEIT, Physics, Biology I, Biology II and ESC were back on by mid-morning. CEIT and Physics were restored at noon followed by the last three around 2:30."

The outage was noticed across campus -- and at UW's satellite buildings in Kitchener and Cambridge -- because the telephone switchboard is in the Physics building. The switchboard has a battery backup, but it ran down about 11 a.m. and phones stopped working until a generator arrived and could be connected.

For a time, the campus computer network was also a casualty, as buildings connected through the science hub, including St. Jerome's University and the "Goodrich" building on Columbia Street, were cut off from the wired world.

Senate undergraduate council 12 noon, Needles Hall room 3004.

Career workshop: "Interview Skills: Preparing for Questions" 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208.

Engineers Without Borders general meeting, "Development Issues in Africa", 5:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

St. Paul's College inaugural Harvey-Klassen Annual Lecture in Bible and Culture: Paula Fredriksen, "The Death of Jesus and the Making of the Passion", 7 p.m., MacKirdy Hall, St. Paul's. Panel discussion of the scholarship of William Klassen on Jesus, 3 p.m.

UW alumni in Palo Alto "Meet the Deans" evening, 6 to 8 p.m., Blue Chalk Café.

Employee Assistance Program workshop, "How to Learn to Love Exercise", Wednesday 9:30 to noon, information ext. 5418.

Federation of Students candidates' forum Wednesday 11:30, Carl Pollock Hall foyer.

Pension and benefits committee Wednesday 12 noon, Needles Hall room 3004, to continue discussion of the end of mandatory retirement.

'Critical Thinking' teaching workshop, tomorrow or February 16, 12 noon, details and registration online.

Café-rencontre du départment d'études françaises: Jean-Michel Maulpoix, Université de Paris X, "Parlons de poésie," mercredi 14h30, Tatham Centre salle 2218.

Careers in math and computer science: panel of math graduates speaking about their careers, Wednesday 4:30, Davis Centre room 1302, sponsored by Women in Mathematics Committee.

Mathematics exchange programs information session Wednesday 4:30, Math and Computer room 5158. Destinations include Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Singapore and others.

'Entrepreneurship: A Woman's Perspective' panel sponsored by Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, Thursday 12 noon, Davis Centre room 1302, reservations ext. 7167 today.

Blood donor clinic one day only, Monday 10:00 to 4:00, Student Life Centre, book appointments now at turnkey desk.

Board of governors meets today

UW's board of governors holds its quarterly meeting today -- in an unusual location -- and will be asked to approve residence fee increases for the coming year.

Also on the agenda will be construction plans for the School of Pharmacy building in Kitchener and the Centre for Advanced Photovoltaic Devices building on the main campus. And president David Johnston will give his usual "environmental scan", undoubtedly including comments on the appointment of the new federal cabinet, headed by prime minister Stephen Harper, which took office yesterday.

The board meeting starts at 2:30 today in the Manulife Wellness Centre, the west wing of the Lyle Hallman Institute, which in turn is the west wing of Matthews Hall near the Columbia Street entrance to campus.

Fees will go up by 4.0 per cent as of September 1 in the Village residences, the Minota Hagey Residence and UW Place, according to proposals in the board agenda. That would take the two-term fee for a single in Village I up to $4,438. One term in a single in Columbia Lake Village would cost $2,116 (that's $529 a month) and a single in UW Place would cost $4,532 or $4,787 for two terms. The monthly rent for an "apartment-style" unit in Columbia Lake would go up to $1,037 from this year's $997.

The board meeting will also see an update on UW's 2005-06 operating budget. The provost will report that income is up from the estimate the board approved last year, mostly because of the provincial "Quality Improvement Fund". However, spending has gone up even more -- partly because of soaring prices for utilities. UW now expects to spend $326 million in the current fiscal year. For the first time, total salary spending will be more than $200 million.


New admissions official, and more

Nancy Weiner (left) is to be UW's new associate registrar (admissions). Registrar Ken Lavigne says Weiner will take over her new role on February 27, as Peter Burroughs, currently director of admissions, ends his "28 years of distinguished service to UW". Weiner is a 1993 UW graduate and came to Needles Hall five years ago as assistant registrar in charge of arts, environmental studies and independent studies. She'd previously been an admissions officer at Wilfrid Laurier University. "Nancy brings over 11 years of admissions management experience to this senior management portfolio," Lavigne writes. "I look forward to working with Nancy in her new role." Meanwhile, Burroughs is taking some vacation time, and will be back on campus just long enough, before his official retirement, to be guest of honour at a retirement reception tentatively scheduled for April 6. Details are to be announced.

"Stress is when you wake up screaming and you realize you haven't fallen asleep yet!" So says a bright yellow flyer distributed this week by UW's Employee Assistance Program, which is offering a series of noon-hour stress reduction sessions, starting tomorrow. "All you have to do," says the flyer, "is be in MC 5158 on a Wednesday between 12:00 and 12:45 p.m. -- then get comfortable and let your worries go, to the calming CDs of renowned relaxation teacher Eli Bay." The sessions begin tomorrow, with the day's focus on "empowered breathing". More information: ext. 5418.

The drive to raise money for expansion of UW's Optometry building is "more than half way there", according to the latest issue of the optometry alumni newsletter. "We have raised approximately $4.5 million of the $7.2 million fundraising goal. With this success, the School has been given approval to acquire architectural drawings for the new addition." The newsletter notes that "every gift from every donor makes a difference," but particularly acknowledges "leadership contributions" of $10,000 or more from 22 optometrists of partnerships across the country. In addition, ten "professional and corporate partners", such as companies in the optical business, are acknowledged for their support.

Eric Dingle of the men's squash Warriors is the male "athlete of the week" after leading the squad to a bronze medal over the weekend at the OUA league championships. Says a note from the athletics department: "Eric was named a First Team All Star and played an incredible match against Western's number 1 (Andrew Jones). Eric showed incredible determination and performance that drove him to come back from a 0-2 deficit, and win his next 3 games in a row, beating Andrew Jones, 3-2. The Warriors were defeated by Western in the semi-finals but fought back to claim the OUA bronze over Toronto."

[LtL logo] It's a week until Valentine's Day, which means you have a week, max, to add your comments to the "Loving to Learn" outpouring that's being organized by the departments of Learning Resources and Innovation. "Faculty, students and staff," says instigator Mark Morton, "are here because they love to learn." He's posing questions: "What do you love to learn? . . . Was there a particular person who inspired your love of learning? . . . Has learning ever been unfaithful to you?" Details are on a special web site, and I've promised to report on the findings in this Daily Bulletin next week.

And . . . I hate it when I have to run the same correction twice. But I made the same mistake yesterday that I'd made a few days earlier, saying that civil engineering student Michael Davenport is a candidate for vice-president (internal) of the Federation of Students. In fact, and I hope today's the last day I have to emphasize it, the candidate is a physics student -- also named Michael Davenport.


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