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Tom Novotny speaks about his research at a TEDx event on the environment in Ibiza, Spain. Tom Novotny speaks about his research at a TEDx event on the environment in Ibiza, Spain.
 


From a Clean Campus to a Healthier Globe

SDSU Professor Tom Novotny is making strides in tobacco disease research and the promotion of global health diplomacy.
By Natalia Van Stralen
 

Just back from a trip to Washington D.C. and New York to speak about his work with global health diplomacy, Tom Novotny, a professor of public health at San Diego State University, has been a busy man and doesn’t have any intention of slowing down.

Novotny was invited to speak about the newly published book, “21st Century Global Diplomacy,” edited by him, Iiona Kickbusch and Michaela Told, both from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Switzerland.

Recent outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), avian flu and the threat of bioterrorism have roused interest and demand for training in global health diplomacy which can be critical to global governance of international health relations. The book provides an explanation of global health diplomacy and an understanding of foreign health policies, security and governance.

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Novotny’s newly published book, “21st Century Global Diplomacy.”

“Global diplomacy emphasizes global cooperation on critical health issues, and this cooperation is increasingly important as national borders do not assure insulation from serious health threats,” said Novotny, who is also co-director of SDSU’s joint Ph.D. program in global health.

“It is also important for helping translate biomedical research into ethically, politically and culturally sensitive health interventions that can be applied across the globe.”

Tobacco disease research

With funding from the California Tobacco Related Disease Research Program, Novotny has been overseeing a research project to develop policies that reduce the environmental impact of tobacco use.

Through this Cigarette Butt Pollution Project, Novotny and a team have conducted cigarette butt cleanups each year on SDSU’s campus. Working closely with the Washington, D.C.-based Legacy Foundation and the California Department of Public Health, the team recently developed a toolkit for use by state-funded agencies to prevent and mitigate cigarette butt waste.

Just last month, Novotny spoke about this project and his research at a TEDx event on the environment in Ibiza, Spain.

With funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Novotny is also a part of research collaboration with Professor Kelley Lee of Simon Fraser University studying the influence of the tobacco industry on the environment. This $30,000 project will employ graduate students to help explore how the tobacco industry may have influenced some environmental groups to divert attention from industry responsibility for cigarette butt waste.

About Tom Novotny

Novotny is a leader in an international effort to address tobacco waste’s impact on public health and the environment. Prior to his academic career at SDSU, he served as assistant surgeon general and deputy assistant secretary for International and Refugee Health in the Clinton Administration and was a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Office on Smoking and Health.

SDSU’s joint Ph.D. program in global health, of which Novotny is co-director of, has graduated seven Ph.D.’s who have gone on to jobs in academia, government and non-governmental organizations. The interdisciplinary program instructs and provides research opportunities for students in response to global health problems both in California and abroad.