Connecticut’s $3.6 billion share of the nationwide tobacco settlement should be used to fund public health and anti-smoking programs, the state’s attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, told faculty and students during a talk April 14 at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. “We have an opportunity to use this money in a way that literally will save lives,” he said, noting that some in government would rather use the money for politically desirable programs such as property tax relief or increased public school funding. “We continue to face this industry that will go on marketing to kids and we have to figure out how to counter it,” Blumenthal added, posing a challenge to his audience in Winslow Auditorium. “I am inviting you to think about this problem.”
Blumenthal was the final speaker in an inaugural series of public health grand rounds that began in December with a talk on drug policy by Thomas Zeltner, the director general of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. Other speakers were Barry S. Levy, M.D., M.P.H., former president of the American Public Health Association, and Frank Ruddle, Ph.D., Sterling Professor of Biology. “We want to give our students the opportunity to hear from practitioners of public health in the community, the state and the nation, as well as experts from fields related to public health,” said Michael H. Merson, M.D., dean of public health, adding that the roster of speakers will reach beyond physicians and researchers to include government officials, such as Blumenthal, whose duties touch on public health issues. Merson said he hopes to have up to five grand rounds each academic year.