Strengthening actions to end tobacco use
Waterloo’s ITC Project honoured with 2021 Governor General’s Innovation Award
Waterloo’s ITC Project honoured with 2021 Governor General’s Innovation AwardBy Wendy Philpott Faculty of Arts
The International Tobacco Control (ITC) Project at the University of Waterloo has been awarded one of six Governor General’s Innovation Awards for 2021. Celebrating excellence in innovation that makes a positive impact on quality of life in Canada, the honour is awarded jointly to the interdisciplinary ITC team including Faculty of Arts’ Geoffrey Fong (Psychology), Faculty of Mathematics’ Mary Thompson (Statistics and Actuarial Science), and Faculty of Health’s David Hammond (School of Public Health and Health Systems).
“With the persistent leadership of Dr. Geoffrey Fong, the ITC Project, centered at the University of Waterloo, is globally renowned for its innovative research supporting and defending effective tobacco control policies such as graphic health warnings, smoke-free laws, advertising bans and tobacco taxes,” states the Governor General’s Innovation Award citation.
“This pioneering research, across 29 countries covering over half of the world’s population, has led Canada and many other countries to strengthen their tobacco control efforts, improving the health of millions of people worldwide,” the citation continued.
Fong recalls the early days of the ITC Project. “Although I had very little background in tobacco research when the ITC concept was developing in my mind, thanks to extraordinary support from colleagues at Waterloo — like Roy Cameron, now a Waterloo distinguished professor emeritus — and top tobacco researchers in the US, U, and Australia, who put their faith in Mary, Dave and me in creating the ITC Project.”
Fong also reflected on why the ITC Project has been recognized for its innovation. “Before ITC, there were almost no international studies of tobacco use, and the few that existed were designed to assess whether smoking was going up or down over time. ITC was the first international tobacco program to be created by research institutions rather than governments and ITC was designed to address not just whether smoking was changing, but how and why —especially whether tobacco control policies were responsible for those changes.”