A Brazilian-born scientist at the University of Alabama in Birmingham wants to help women in her native country quit smoking, and she has enlisted the U.S. government’s help to do it — to the tune of a $1.5 million grant.
The National Institute of Health, through its Fogarty International Center, sponsors numerous global health initiatives. Among them, a program to research tobacco control as a means of promoting world health. In 2012, in addition to the UAB grant, the Fogarty Center awarded 10 other grants to study and implement tobacco control programs abroad. According to the center’s website, the programs are aimed at reducing the social and economic burden that results from tobacco-related death and disease.
Other countries where the center funded tobacco control and cessation research programs in 2012 include India, Argentina, Romania, China and Tanzania.
UAB preventive medicine expert Isabel Scarinci (pictured, left), a native of Brazil, will spearhead the study which partners the U.S.-based university with Federal University of Parana, Pontifical Catholic University of Parana, Brazil’s national cancer institute, as well as state and local health authorities in Brazil’s state of Parana, which was where Scarinci grew up.
One of the requirements of the Fogarty Center’s International Tobacco and Health Research and Capacity Building Program is that a university from the United States or another wealthy nation partner with institutions in a nation with a developing economy.
Scarinci has previously run tobacco cessation research programs among the Latino and African-American populations of Alabama.
The tobacco epidemic has hit Brazil’s lower-income population especially hard because the country has become the world’s second-largest tobacco producer and many small farmers depend completely on the largesse of giant tobacco corporations for their livelihood. Needless to say, in that climate it is difficult to run anti-smoking campaigns and Brazil’s poor, especially young women, are taking up the habit in huge numbers.
“We try to counterbalance the image the tobacco industry is using of independent women who smoke and engage women as catalysts of change,” Scarinci said.