Objective: This Overview paper (I of V) summarizes research work to date on monitoring the tobacco use epidemic, discusses the recommendations made at the November, 2002 National Tobacco Monitoring, Research and Evaluation Workshop sponsored by the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Legacy Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on the topic of tobacco surveillance and evaluation, and discusses the current state of affairs.
Methods: A conceptual model based on the classical infectious diseases framework/paradigm focusing on the Agent, Host, Vector and Environment is used to integrate the work presented in the four other papers that appear in this supplemental issue of Preventive Medicine.
Results: The Agent paper (II) describes surveillance on tobacco products and biomarkers; the Host paper (III) describes surveillance on the smoker/user, or potential smoker/user; the Vector paper (IV) describes monitoring of industry activity; and the Environment paper (V) describes several key strategies for monitoring influential environmental factors. Overall, some improvements to the nation's surveillance system have been made in recent years. However, additional steps are needed to optimize measurement of tobacco use and factors influencing use in the United States.
Conclusions: Tobacco monitoring efforts play a vital role in combating the epidemic of addiction and disease produced by various tobacco products. The knowledge and experience gained by the tobacco use prevention and control community through this commitment to linkages of data collected in the domains of Vector and Environment, in addition to Agent and Host, could inform monitoring of a wide range of other public health issues as well, including diet and nutrition, physical activity, overweight and obesity, and substance abuse.