Leader of the Nonsmoker's Rights Movement Expands a Database Exposing and Countering Tobacco Industry Interference With Public Health Efforts

    • July 23, 2009

Julia Carol
American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation
Berkeley, Calif.

The problem: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. National Toxicology Program, the U.S. Surgeon General and the International Agency for Research on Cancer all have classified secondhand smoke as a human carcinogen. Inhaling secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in nonsmoking adults. Some research suggests that secondhand smoke may increase the risk of other types of cancer as well, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Programee background: Julia Carol is a nationally recognized leader in the nonsmokers' rights movements. She has developed strategies to reduce exposure of nonsmokers, children and workers to environmental tobacco smoke.

The American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation in Berkeley, Calif., is a leading grassroots tobacco-control organization dedicated to promoting nonsmokers rights and smoke-free policies. In the 1980s, the foundation was instrumental in securing legislation banning smoking in airplanes; the foundation has received a number of RWJF grants to promote clean air laws.

The award: In 2001, Carol received an Innovators Combating Substance Abuse award and got a chance to advance her work. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) created the Innovators program to nurture and promote innovation in combating substance abuse. Between 2000 and 2003, some 20 senior researchers, practitioners and policy-makers received Innovators awards. See Program Results Report for more information on the program.

Carol used her Innovators award to expand a Tobacco Industry Tracking Database and make it available on the Internet. The database provides information to help individuals and organizations expose and counter tobacco industry interference with public health efforts.

The database contains citations, abstracts and detailed indexing for articles, news stories and other materials regarding the tobacco industry, clean indoor air campaigns and other tobacco policy issues. Documents date back to the early 1960s, although the primary focus of the collection is 1993 to present. The database is updated weekly.


Carol reported to RWJF that:

  • Between its release to the public in March 2002 and August 2003, the Tobacco Industry Tracking Database website received 8,775 hits to its search pages, and an advanced search page received 591 hits.

  • The database includes 15,635 records, 5,143 of which were catalogued and indexed as part of the Innovators award. Staff also maintained the database and created new subject terms.

  • She and colleagues presented information about the database at approximately 15 conferences and 15 training sessions including the American Public Health Association, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

RWJF perspective: "The Innovators Combating Substance Abuse program recognized the innovation and creativity of researchers, advocates and providers who have dedicated their professional careers to reducing the toll of substance use and abuse," said Michele Larkin, RWJF senior program officer. "These individuals have had an extraordinary impact on the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, promoting the science and advocating for positive and lasting change."