SRNT HISTORY: THE FIRST DECADE
Number of SRNT Members (open diamonds), number of SRNT annual meeting attendees (open triangles) and number of meeting presentations (open squares). Note: Missing data points indicate lack of information.
Number of articles published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.
HISTORICAL ASIDE: THE NAME, SOCIETY FOR RESEARCH ON NICOTINE AND TOBACCO, CAME ABOUT AS AN ATTEMPT TO RECONCILE THE VIEWS OF SOME RESEARCHERS WHO WANTED ONLY NICOTINE IN THE NAME WITH THAT OF OTHERS WHO WANTED JUST TO MENTION TOBACCO. THE COMPROMISE WAS TO LIST BOTH TERMS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER.
HISTORICAL ASIDE: SRNT CAME INTO BEING JUST AFTER THE ERA DURING WHICH FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL, C. EVERETT KOOP, EMPHASIZED THE IMPORTANCE OF SMOKING AS A PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEM AND PROMOTED SCIENCE-BASED THEORY, PREVENTION, TREATMENT, AND POLICY FOR TOBACCO CONTROL; AS SURGEON GENERAL, HE ALSO MADE COMPELLING ARGUMENTS FOR INCREASING FUNDING FOR BASIC AND APPLIED RESEARCH.
HISTORICAL ASIDE: JOHN PINNEY, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE US OFFICE ON SMOKING AND HEALTH, AND TED KLEIN, A PROMINENT ADVERTISING EXECUTIVE SPECIALIZING IN PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS FOR SMOKING CESSATION, PROVIDED VALUABLE COUNSEL AND SUPPORT AT THE INCEPTION OF THE SOCIETY AS WELL AS AT VARIOUS TIMES OF NEED LATER ON.
Neal Benowitz, 1996-1997. The issue of whether applicants for membership could be turned down if their employer did not meet prevailing academic standards of openness and disclosure stimulated numerous Listserv exchanges during the year. After considerable deliberation, the SRNT Board concluded that membership must be open to all who met the stated requirements but that, in addition, members must endorse and adhere to the following statement in the application brochure: I affirm that I will support the goals of the Society to stimulate new knowledge concerning nicotine, to foster the exchange of scientific information on nicotine and tobacco dependence, and to encourage research on public health efforts for the prevention and treatment of cigarette smoking and tobacco use. In September, 1996, SRNT sponsored a systematic review of the Agency for Health Care and Policy Research (AHCPR) guidelines for smoking cessation therapy on behalf of the issuing panel. Early in 1997, the Board began exploring the possibility of publishing a scientific journal, and Nicotine & Tobacco Research became a reality a year later with the designation of Carfax Publishing Ltd. (now Taylor & Francis Group, Abingdon, United Kingdom) as publisher.
Maxine Stitzer, 1997-1998. This year was characterized as a “tumultuous time” for the Society, mainly due to a deterioration of management services from Phoenix Professional Partnerships. The SRNT Website was transferred to Brown University during this time and new features were added. The first SRNT international meeting was held in Copenhagen, Denmark in August, 1997, with a remarkable turnout of over 500 attendees. SRNT also became more active in advocating the use of tobacco settlement monies to support research on nicotine addiction, tobacco control, and the health consequences of smoking in the context of the McCain Tobacco Settlement Bill then under consideration in the US Congress. The Society also had input in the Clinton Administration’s plans for legislation concerning the tobacco industry settlement and FDA regulation of tobacco products. Although neither of these initiatives came to fruition, SRNT established its usefulness as a resource for scientific information to guide policy.
Jack Henningfield, 1998-1999. The effort to resolve on-going administrative crises continued. Considerable progress was made in this year, in large part due to the assistance of pro bono accountants and lawyers at Pinney Associates who assessed and helped resolve accounting irregularities. Following completion of these tasks, the Board selected a new management company, Thomas Miller Associates (now The Rees Group), to replace Phoenix Professional Partnerships. Despite the challenges, the Society sponsored a highly successful conference, “Addicted to Nicotine,” in conjunction with the National Institute on Drug Abuse; the keynote address was delivered by U.S. Vice President Al Gore. SRNT also provided assistance to the National Cancer Institute on their Tobacco Research Implementation Plan, helping define the rationale for the forthcoming Transdisciplinary Tobacco Research Centers Program
Dorothy Hatsukami, 1999-2000. In this year, SRNT was fortunate in being able to secure a recurring grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to defray some of the costs for annual meetings. This grant signaled the Society’s shift from pharmaceutical industry support to greater reliance on funding from government and voluntary agencies. SRNT also sponsored a Treatment Outcome Methodology report, an effort that eventuated in a compendium of articles on recommended methods. In June, 1999, the first issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research was distributed to the membership and to libraries around the world. Also during this time, SRNT collaborated with the World Health Organization, the World Bank Organization, the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group, and the Centers for Disease Control to develop a new resource for the treatment of tobacco dependence using the internet, www.treattobacco.net. This new portal provides access to a comprehensive database that focuses on five critical aspects of tobacco dependence: efficacy, safety, economics, policy, and demographics/health effects. The international expansion of the Society was formalized with the creation of a Global Network Committee. Finally, a special contest to design a new logo for SRNT was held; the winning submission was a multicolored acronym based on the letters SRNT.
William Corrigall, 2000-2001. The goal of his administration was to enhance the role and to increase participation of basic science researchers in the Society. A by-product of this effort was the development of pre-conference sessions at the annual meeting and the deployment of additional tracks to meet increased demand for specialized scientific presentations. In July, the Society’s Bylaws were modified extensively to accommodate the inclusion of international affiliates; changes also included provisions for adding more Board members outside of North America and procedures for organizing regional affiliates. The first affiliate, SRNT-Europe, was admitted later in the year.
Kenneth Perkins, 2001-2002. A major objective was to have SRNT serve as the meeting place of choice and the principal center of communication for nicotine/tobacco scientists around the world. Electronic distribution of the Newsletter began during the year and the SRNT Website was further improved. Later during the year, controversy over the issue of tobacco industry funding for research and sponsorship of scientific meetings erupted, prompting a review of policy and a formal statement by the Executive Committee (see Newsletter, Vol. 8, #1) discouraging the acceptance of tobacco company funding. Those who chose to accept such support were strongly advised to insist on scientific independence in the conduct of sponsored research and to obtain the right to reveal all sources of support. In a related development, the journal released an official position statement (Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 2002; 4, 1-2) requiring full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. At the semi-annual meeting of the Board of Directors in the fall, the decision was also made to plan an annual meeting outside of the US. As a consequence, Prague in the Czech Republic was chosen as the venue for the 2005 meeting.
HISTORICAL ASIDE: IN RECOGNITION OF HIS STRONG SUPPORT AND COMMITMENT TO NICOTINE AND TOBACCO RESEARCH DURING HIS TENURE, ALAN LESHNER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DRUG ABUSE, RECEIVED A SPECIAL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE SOCIETY IN 2002.
Harry Lando, 2002-2003. During this year, the Society’s visibility increased markedly among regulatory agencies and policy makers, and new constituencies were reached. In related developments, concerns were expressed over how best to issue policy statements in the name of the Society; an ad hoc committee studied the issue over much of the year and, in April, 2003, new procedures were promulgated by which policy and consensus statements could be issued, along with rules for disclosure of competing interests by SRNT officers, and this information is now available on the SRNT Website. Burgeoning interest in global research by the membership resulted in a well-attended pre-conference meeting on this topic.
HISTORICAL ASIDE: A NEW PRIZE WAS AWARDED IN 2003 TO HONOR THE LATE JOHN SLADE, WHO HAD BEEN PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AT THE ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON MEDICAL SCHOOL AND A DISTINGUISHED PUBLIC POLICY ADVOCATE AND AUTHOR OF THE BOOK, THE CIGARETTE PAPERS. THE JOHN SLADE PRIZE RECOGNIZES INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE MADE OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTIONS TO PUBLIC HEALTH AND TOBACCO CONTROL, COMMEMORATING HIS VISION THAT SCIENCE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN PUBLIC POLICY.