Geoffrey Fong, David Hammond and Mary Thompson, Lise Manchester Award 2012

Geoffrey Fong, David Hammond and Mary Thompson are the 2012 recipients of the Lise Manchester Award. This biennial award is given by the Statistical Society of Canada in commemoration of the late Dr. Lise Manchester's abiding interest in using statistical methods to study matters of relevance to society. The award recognizes excellence in statistical research which considers problems of public interest and which is potentially useful for formation of Canadian public policy.

This year's award is given to Professors Fong, Hammond and Thompson for their work on the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (ITC) Project. Tobacco use is the world's most prevalent cause of death and disease, and is projected by the World Health Organization to kill one billion people in the 21st century. The ITC Project was created in 2002 by an international consortium of researchers, led by Geoffrey Fong and centered at the University of Waterloo, to conduct the first-ever longitudinal cohort study of tobacco use. The objective of the ITC Project is to evaluate the impact of tobacco control policies of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which was adopted in 2003 to directly combat the tobacco epidemic and has been ratified by more than 170 countries. Since its inception, the ITC Project has conducted extensive cohort surveys in 20 countries, inhabited by over 50% of the world's population and 70% of the world's tobacco users. It is the first and only international research effort that focuses on measuring the impact of FCTC policies.

In Canada, Professor Fong and his colleague David Hammond have played major roles in evidence-based policymaking in tobacco control in promoting health warnings and smoke-free laws. Professors Fong and Hammond have written reports for Justice Canada and Health Canada regarding the evidence base in support of stronger health warnings and on the elimination of "light/ mild" cigarettes. These efforts have contributed to policy advancements and legislation. Mary Thompson is the Director of the ITC Data Management Centre in Waterloo, which is responsible for sampling designs, data collection, processing, and management, as well as a substantial portion of the analysis of data.

In testimony before the Health Standing Committee of the House of Commons in December 2010, Professor Fong presented ITC Canada Survey data showing that all indicators of health warning label effectiveness had declined over the previous seven years. His evidence was considered highly influential in the government's decision to reinstate regulations for new and larger graphic warnings on tobacco products.

The ITC Project has had significant influence in countries all over the world as they combat the tobacco epidemic. For example, findings from the ITC Bangladesh Survey showed that very low taxes and prices are a primary cause of the increasing rates of tobacco use in that country. The ITC Project team in Bangladesh is working with the National Board of Revenue, in collaboration with WHO, to raise taxes on tobacco products.

In the area of health warnings on cigarette packages, David Hammond served as an Advisor for the World Health Organization during the FCTC negotiations, and ITC research is cited both in the FCTC guidelines and in consultation reports and regulatory impact assessments in more than a dozen countries. Governments have also relied upon ITC findings in court cases to defend tobacco control legislation against industry challenges in countries such as the US and the UK. ITC research has had a similar influence in other policy domains, including restrictions on tobacco advertising and marketing, as well as smoke-free legislation.

Geoffrey Fong is Professor in the Department of Psychology and in the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo, and Senior Investigator at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. Originally from California, he received his BA in Psychology from Stanford University and his PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan. He held faculty positions at Northwestern University and Princeton University before coming to the University of Waterloo in 1988. He is a well-known expert on research methods, judgment and decision-making, and persuasion and social influence, and has a longtime interest in statistical methodology. Besides his work in tobacco control, Professor Fong has also conducted research on the effects of alcohol intoxication on risky health behaviors (e.g., risky sex), and on the creation, implementation, and evaluation (using randomized controlled trials) of behavioral interventions to reduce HIV/ STD risk among inner-city adolescents. As Founder and Chief Principal Investigator of the ITC Project, he spends considerable time traveling to ITC countries, international organizations, and policy forums to work with governments, advocates, and other stakeholders, using ITC findings, to accelerate and strengthen existing tobacco control policies. Among Dr. Fong's awards are the 2009 Top Canadian Achievement in Health Research (with David Hammond and Mary Thompson) from CIHR and the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the 2011 CIHR Knowledge Dissemination Award, and a five-year Prevention Scientist Award from the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (2011-2016).

David Hammond is Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo. He hails from Vancouver and obtained a BA in Psychology from the University of British Columbia. His PhD research in Psychology at the University of Waterloo was carried out under the direction of Professor Fong. Professor Hammond's current research includes tobacco control policy in the areas of health communications, packaging, and product regulation, as well as nutritional labeling and obesity prevention. He also conducts studies in the areas of harm reduction and other areas of health policy. Dr. Hammond works closely with governments around the world and has served as an Advisor for the World Health Organization. He received the 2010 Canada's Premier Young Researcher Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the CIHR-CMAJ Top Canadian Achievements in Health Research Awards with Geoffrey Fong and Mary Thompson as part of the ITC Project, and will be receiving the 2013 Jarvik-Russell Young Investigator Award from the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, honouring members early in their careers who have made extraordinary contributions to the field of nicotine and tobacco research. Professor Hammond is often called upon for media interviews and for expert testimony, and has been instrumental in helping governments move forward on pioneering policies such as Australia's upcoming plain packaging regulation for tobacco products.

Mary Thompson is Distinguished Professor Emerita in Statistics and Actuarial Science at the University of Waterloo. Born in Winnipeg, she has lived in Ontario all of her life, except for four years at the University of Illinois, where she obtained her PhD in statistics. Her research interests are in survey methodology and estimation theory. She began working with the ITC Project at its inception in 2002, and is currently Director of the ITC Data Management Centre, housed at Waterloo. She has been responsible for the sampling designs for the cohort surveys, has been heavily involved in the data analysis underlying the policy recommendations, and oversees the management of the databases. She is a past President (1993-1994) of the Survey Methods Section of the Statistical Society of Canada, and a member of Statistics Canada's Advisory Committee on Statistical Methods (1995-present). She is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute (1977), and a Fellow of both the American Statistical Association (1985) and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (1998). In 2003 she was the recipient of the Statistical Society of Canada's Gold Medal for distinguished contributions to the field and also served as President. In 2006 she was elected to the Royal Society of Canada. In 2004 she was one of the first three faculty members at Waterloo to receive the honorific title of University Professor. And in 2007 she received her most treasured award-the University of Waterloo Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision.

The citation for the award reads: 

"For their work using rigorous survey research methods and policy evaluation designs as part of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project, and for their collaboration in Canada with government agencies, all of which has resulted in a direct and marked influence on Canadian legislation and policy regarding tobacco use, and which has influenced leaders in over twenty countries worldwide with respect to tobacco policies that include smoke- free initiatives and regulations on packaging."