Professor Marcus Munafo - Inaugural lecture

Professor of Biological Psychology
School of Experimental Psychology

The lecture took place on Wednesday 8 February 2012.

"When one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it is statistics." The case for tobacco control.

Tobacco continues to be the single greatest preventable cause of death and disease in developed countries, but despite this people continue to smoke. For psychologists, the reasons for this provide a fascinating insight into the relationship between biological factors, social and cognitive influences, and behaviour. I will discuss what is known about why tobacco (and in particular cigarette smoking) is so addictive, and how treatments to help people stop smoking work. In recent years we have also begun to understand the genetic influences on smoking behaviour, including the ability to give up. Do genetic tests available on the internet offer good value for money, and tell us anything clinically useful? I will discuss population level tobacco control efforts, including taxation and restrictions on branding and point-of-sale displays. What is the evidence that these work, and is it true, for example, that tax revenues on tobacco outweigh the costs of tobacco-related disease to the health service? Finally, I will conclude by suggesting that it is not necessarily tobacco use in general which should be a major concern, but cigarette smoking in particular, as the most harmful form of tobacco use by far.

Professor Marcus Munafo inaugural - 8 February