University of Vermont

Office of Health Promotion Research

Koop Award

UVM Researchers to Receive C. Everett Koop Award

Release Date 10-16-96

A University of Vermont research program demonstrating that television and radio advertisements can help keep kids from smoking cigarettes has won a 1996 C. Everett Koop Award. UVM researchers will receive the award on Friday, Oct. 18, in Washington, D.C. at a conference sponsored by the Washington Business Group on Health.

The Koop Awards, now in their fifth year, are given to workplace and community efforts that improve the quality of health care while reducing costs. The awards -- which this year go to two medical schools and four corporations -- are sponsored by The Health Project, a New York City-based group dedicated to bringing about changes in attitude and behavior in the health care system. The project´s board members include former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, M.D., as honorary chair; business and government leaders; and medical experts, including well-known cardiologist/author Dean Ornish, M.D.

The UVM program that earned the award -- a crystal trophy -- is an ongoing research project begun in 1985 and directed by Brian Flynn, Sc.D., and John Worden, Ph.D. Both are researchers in the UVM College of Medicine's Office of Health PromotionResearch, which is directed by study co-author Roger Secker-Walker, M.D.

The project compares the effects of two different anti-smoking campaigns carried out in four cities in Vermont, upstate New York, and Montana. In two cities, children who were initially in the fifth through seventh grades participated in a school smoking-prevention program for four years; at the same time, similar-aged children in two other cities were exposed to the same school program plus a series of radio and television ads. The ads used kid-friendly strategies such as cartoons and a rock-video format to focus on negative views of smoking, positive views of smoking avoidance, instructions on how to refuse cigarettes and quit smoking and reassurance that most kids don't smoke.

Initial results of the study, published in the American Journal of Public Health in 1992, showed that kids exposed to the advertisements were less likely to smoke. A follow-up study conducted when the kids were in high school found that cigarette smoking was 30 percent less common among those who were exposed to the television and radio ads.

The researchers continue to follow their subjects, many of whom are now in college. Meantime, programs modeled after UVM's have sprung up throughout the country.

"It´s gratifying to see our work have an impact," said Flynn. "And it is of course an honor to receive an award named for Dr. Koop, who has been a hero to me for putting so much time and effort into fighting cigarette smoking."

Last modified September 16 2013 04:11 PM

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