About Dr. Fong
Geoffrey T. Fong, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology and Health Studies at the University of Waterloo. He also holds the position
of Senior Investigator at the Ontario
Institute for Cancer Research."
Dr. Fong is Founder and Chief Principal Investigator of the
Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (the ITC Project),
a transdisciplinary collaboration of
over 70 researchers across 20 countries—Canada, United States, United
Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, China, Mexico,
Uruguay, New Zealand, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Bangladesh,
Brazil, Mauritius, Bhutan, and India.
The mission of the ITC Project is to conduct
rigorous evaluation of the psychosocial and behavioural effects of
national-level tobacco control policies of the
Framework Convention on
Tobacco Control, the first-ever international treaty on health.
In all, the ITC Project is conducting large-scale annual prospective cohort
surveys of tobacco use to evaluate FCTC policies in countries inhabited by
over 50% of the world's population, 60% of the world's smokers, and 70% of the
world's tobacco users. The ITC Project is playing a role in establishing the evidence base for the FCTC.
Dr. Fong has also conducted research on the effects of alcohol intoxication on risky health behaviours (e.g., risky sex), and on the creation, implementation, and evaluation (using randomized controlled trials) of behavioural interventions to reduce HIV/STD risk among inner-city adolescents.
He received his BA in psychology from Stanford University and his PhD in social psychology from the University of Michigan and has held faculty positions at Northwestern University and Princeton University. In 1999, Dr. Fong received the Distinguished Teaching Award of the University of Waterloo. In 2007, Dr. Fong was the first researcher to receive a Senior
Investigator Award from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.
1. Evaluation of Tobacco Control Policies
"Tobacco is the most effective agent of death ever developed and deployed
on a worldwide scale."
-John Seffrin, CEO, American Cancer Society
and Past President, International Union Against Cancer (UICC)
Tobacco use is the most important preventable cause of death in the world, accounting for
10% of all deaths and 30% of all cancer deaths.Smoking causes more deaths in the world than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria COMBINED. Although 100 million
tobacco-related deaths occurred in the 20th Century, it is estimated that
one billion people will die of tobacco use in the 21st Century, and 80% will
of the deaths will be in developing countries.
In 2003, the first-ever health treaty was adopted by all 192 member states of
the World Health Organization: the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. [It is worth
noting that the first-ever health treaty was not on HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis
or influenza or malaria but on tobacco.] The FCTC specifies national-level
tobacco control policies that the ratifying countries are obligated to
implement, including larger and more prominent warning
labels, prohibitions against the use of "light" or "mild" and other misleading
brand descriptors, restrictions/prohibitions on advertising, promotion and
sponsorship of tobacco products, increases in taxation, measures to limit
exposure to tobacco smoke pollution (also known as second-hand smoke or
environmental tobacco smoke), measures to eliminate illicit trade, and
regulation of tobacco products.
But as with every treaty, the text of the FCTC itself is not very specific
about exactly what kinds of laws would constitute "effective" implementation
of the FCTC. That is to be worked out by the "parties" (that is, those
countries who have ratified the FCTC in their national governing bodies
(e.g., parliament, congress)). What then could guide policymakers toward
strong and effective laws under the FCTC who need to address questions such
as "are graphic warning labels more effective than text-based warnings?"
"Will advertising restrictions be sufficient to reduce demand for tobacco, or
is a total ban necessary?" "Can ventilation be an 'effective' method for
significantly reducing exposure to tobacco smoke?"
The answers to these and other important questions are to be found in
evidence from rigorous research. Evidence from well-designed evaluation
studies of FCTC policies that are now being implemented in leading-edge
countries will be key in helping policymakers in choosing strong,
And yet, at the time of the adoption of the FCTC, there were few research
studies that had evaluated national-level tobacco control policies. And this
lack of international comparative studies of the impact of FCTC policies was
what motivated me and my colleagues to create the International Tobacco
Control Policy Evaluation Project, known as "the ITC Project."
The ITC Project is the collaborative effort of over 70 tobacco control
researchers across 20 countries--Canada, United States, United Kingdom,
Australia, Ireland, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, China, Mexico, Uruguay,
New Zealand, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Bangladesh, Brazil,
Mauritius, Bhutan, and India.
The central objective of the ITC Project is to conduct rigorous evaluation of
the impact of FCTC policies throughout the world: to contribute to the
evidence base for the FCTC and to disseminate our findings quickly and
effectively to policymakers throughout the world.
The ITC Project consists of a collection of parallel prospective cohort
surveys of probability samples of adult smokers in all 20 countries (with
probability samples of youth in some countries, non-smokers in some countries,
and smokeless tobacco users in some countries). The commonality of methods,
design, protocols, and analytic approaches, all driven by a common conceptual
model across all ITC countries, allows for possibilities for discovering
commonalities as well as differences across the ITC countries in tobacco use
patterns, the factors that influence them over time, and the impact of
FCTC policies that are being implemented in these countries.
The ITC Project is the first-ever international cohort study of tobacco use of
any kind, and its focus on evaluating multiple policies in multiple countries
over multiple points in time make it a key source for evidence bearing on
the effectiveness of FCTC policies. All ITC Surveys include measures of
all of the demand reduction policies of the FCTC,
For additional information on the ITC Project, see this website:
To download our July 2008 ITC Project Brochure, which focuses on the ITC
Surveys, click here.
To see a collection of 12 research articles from the ITC Project, which was
published in a special supplement of the journal Tobacco Control, see this
website (and all articles are free for downloading!):
To see the recent (Feb 2008) landmark report by the WHO on tobacco use--the
(which cites several of our ITC Project articles), click here:
Here is a recent (August 2008) presentation on the ITC Project I gave at a
Plenary Panel of the UICC World Cancer Congress in Geneva:
2008 World Cancer Congress Presentation
2. Other research projects in tobacco use and tobacco control
- Measuring and documenting the level of tobaco smoke pollution in key,
leading edge venues such as in casinos, cars, and outdoor patios.
- There are other lines of research that we are conducting on tobacco use
and tobacco control, including the effect of portrayals of smoking in the
movies on implicit measures.
Psychological Science article, led by Sonya Dal
Cin, former grad student, now a faculty member at the University of Michigan.
This website is being revised. Descriptions of other active research areas
will soon be added.
In addition to my research interests in social psychology and public health,
I have expertise in conducting research studies relevant to trademark law in
the United States. I have served as an expert witness in Federal trademark
cases in which I have conducted trademark surveys to address questions of
likelihood of confusion, secondary meaning, and genericness. I have represented
a broad range of companies, including Volkswagen of America, Genessee Brewing
Company, and Schick.
Here is the opinion in Volkswagen v. Uptown Motors a case tried in the Second Circuit,
Southern District New York. I conducted a trademark survey on behalf of
Volkswagen at locations in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. It was designed to
measure the impact of the Volkswagen logo on consumers' perceptions. I used
experimental methods to measure the strength of the VW logo. My survey was
dispositive in this case, and the effect size was used by Judge Cote to award
damages to Volkswagen.
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