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New England Law | Boston Establishes Tobacco Policy Center

(Boston, 11/13/09)  New England Law | Boston: New England Law | Boston has been awarded a five-year, approximately $2.5 million grant to develop and operate a policy resource center for New York State’s tobacco control program efforts.  The Center for Public Health and Tobacco Policy is building on New York’s leadership in this field.

 Professor Micah Berman
Professor Micah Berman

The grant from the New York State Department of Health began January 1, 2010, and is the largest in New England Law’s 100-year history.  It is directed by New England Law Professor Micah Berman, an experienced and recognized authority on tobacco control policy.

“Tobacco is one of the nation’s most important public health public policy issues, and New York has one of the most comprehensive and successful programs,” said New England Law Dean John F. O’Brien.  “We are proud to host this program because it is so emblematic of the law school’s commitment to the public good.

“Receipt of this competitive award is indicative of the strength of our programs and the talents of our faculty and staff.  The Center for Public Health and Tobacco Policy will be a significant learning opportunity for our students, particularly those interested in health law and policy.”

New York State has a highly successful tobacco control program.  Between 2000 and 2006, smoking prevalence among adult New Yorkers declined by 16 percent and smoking among high school students fell by 40 percent.  This progress far outpaced the national average, yet the toll remains far too high.  Smoking kills 25,500 people every year in New York State, and secondhand smoke kills 2,500 New Yorkers every year.  (Source:

The core of the center’s work will be policy and legal research related to tobacco control.  The center will work with the New York State Department of Health and communities around New York to develop policies to reduce the availability of tobacco products, protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, and minimize or remove tobacco advertising.

Professor Micah Berman is fully versed in state tobacco policy programs, having directed Ohio’s Tobacco Public Policy Center from 2005 to 2008.  He has also worked closely with the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, a national clearinghouse that supports the creation of new legal resources for tobacco control advocates.  Professor Berman previously served as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice and a litigation associate with the law firm of Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP.  He speaks and writes about tobacco control, public health policy, and health-related litigation and is a member of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Council of Public Representatives.

“I can’t think of any work that’s more important, since on a national scale tobacco use results in over 400,000 people losing their lives annually from a completely preventable cause,” Berman commented.  “New York State already has a tremendously successful tobacco control program, and we’ll be building on current efforts and developing new proposals.  The center will work with New York’s tobacco control community to draft model policies, make advocates aware of legal issues, and generally advance this crucial public health issue.”

The center will join the activities and programs of the Center for Law and Social Responsibility, which has established public service as a cornerstone of New England Law’s academic and co-curricular programs.  Professor Berman will oversee center operations and supervise an assistant director and a center administrator. Several New England Law students will also be hired to assist center operations.  Some of the center’s public events will be scheduled in Boston, and webinars for the New York tobacco community may also be made available to the New England Law community and the public at large.


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