Professor Geoffrey Fong’s research leadership honoured by Canadian Cancer Society

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Canadian Cancer Society has just announced that Professor Geoffrey Fong is the 2021 recipient of the O. Harold Warwick Prize for outstanding research achievements in cancer control in Canada. The prize recognizes Fong’s leadership of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (ITC Project).

“Smoking tobacco is a leading cause of cancer not just in Canada, but globally,” says Dr. Stuart Edmonds, Executive Vice-President, Mission, Research and Advocacy at CCS. “We commend Dr Fong on his research and advocacy efforts, which have helped reduce tobacco use and had an unparalleled impact on the health of millions of people around the world.”

Geoffrey Fong

Fong is founder and chief principal investigator of the ITC Project, based in the Department of Psychology. Fong’s ITC Project has conducted surveys in 29 countries to evaluate key policies of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). From the more than 300,000 completed surveys that have been conducted since 2002, the ITC team has published over 600 scientific papers, many of which have evaluated the effectiveness of FCTC policies, including smoke-free laws, graphic warnings, and higher tobacco taxes.

Just last week Fong and professors Mary Thompson (Faculty of Math) and David Hammond (Faculty of Health) were jointly awarded a 2021 Governor General’s Innovation Award for their ITC Project impacts on quality of life in Canada.

Recent ITC evaluation studies in Canada include plain packaging and ban of menthol cigarettes, which found that Canada’s menthol ban led to substantially greater quitting among menthol smokers and lower relapse among former menthol smokers.

In fact, on April 29, the US FDA announced that the US would also ban menthol cigarettes, highlighting the ITC study and Fong’s estimates based on the Canadian findings that the US menthol cigarette ban would lead an additional 923,000 US smokers to quit.

Fong acknowledges Waterloo’s Office of Research whose “truly amazing support in our project’s obtaining nearly 100 research grants over the years. Their support—and that of the faculties of Arts, Math, and Health, and so many others at Waterloo—has made it possible for our ITC Project to advance the science of population health at the global level.”

Geoff Fong on stage addressing large audience

The O. Harold Warwick Prize is named after the pioneering researcher in cancer control and treatment, who became the first executive director of both the former National Cancer Institute of Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society. The award is given annually to honour distinguished investigators in cancer control research.