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1.  Use of Interrupted Time-Series Method to Evaluate the Impact of Cigarette Excise Tax Increases in Pennsylvania, 2000–2009 
Introduction
Scientific evidence shows that cigarette price increases can significantly reduce smoking prevalence and smoking initiation among adolescents and young adults. However, data are lacking regarding the effectiveness of increasing Pennsylvania’s cigarette tax to reduce smoking and/or adverse health effects of smoking. The objective of our study was to assess the impact of cigarette tax increases and resulting price increases on smoking prevalence, acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and asthma hospitalization rates, and sudden cardiac death (SCD) rates in Pennsylvania.
Methods
We used segmented regression analyses of interrupted time series to evaluate the level and trend changes in Pennsylvania adults’ current smoking prevalence, age-adjusted AMI and asthma hospitalization rates, age-specific asthma hospitalization rates, and age-adjusted SCD rates following 2 cigarette excise tax increases.
Results
After the first excise tax increase, no beneficial effects were noted on the outcomes of interest. The second tax increase was associated with significant declines in smoking prevalence for people aged 18 to 39, age-adjusted AMI hospitalization rates for men, age-adjusted asthma hospitalizations rates, and SCD rates among men. Overall smoking prevalence declined by 5.2% (P = .01), with a quarterly decrease of 1.4% (P = .01) for people aged 18 to 39 years. The age-adjusted AMI hospitalization rate for men showed a decline of 3.87/100,000 population (P = .04). The rate of age-adjusted asthma hospitalizations decreased by 10.05/100,000 population (P < .001), and the quarterly trend decreased by 3.21/100,000 population (P < .001). Quarterly SCD rates for men decreased by 1.34/100,000 population (P < .001).
Conclusion
An increase in the price of cigarettes to more than $4 per 20-cigarette pack was associated with a significant decrease in smoking among younger people (aged 18–39). Decreases were also seen in asthma hospitalizations and men’s age-adjusted AMI hospitalization and SCD rates. Further research and policy development regarding the effect of cigarette taxes on tobacco consumption should be cognizant of the psychological tipping points at which overall price affects smoking patterns.
doi:10.5888/pcd10.120268
PMCID: PMC3804017  PMID: 24135393
3.  TRAINING PROGRAMS TO STRENGTHEN PENNSYLVANIA’S PUBLIC HEALTH RESPONSE 
This report describes Pennsylvania’s 9-year experience in implementing training programs to strengthen public health response to emerging infectious diseases. During the biannual 3–5-day-long Pennsylvania Public Health Institute (PHI) events, which have been held since 2000, courses have covered topics such as emerging infectious disease outbreaks, monitoring of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens in retail food, and zoonotic diseases commonly associated with companion animals. Core competency courses include the legal basis for public health and epidemiology for nonepidemiologists. Emerging infectious disease seminars offered to clinicians since 2005 have focused on the emergence of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Complementing the PHI, the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s monthly Epidemiology Journal Club offers additional interactions with presenters from academic institutions and federal agencies. Lunch-time forums also provide a venue for health department staff to share their work with colleagues. Innovative use of modern communication technology increases participation of frontline health workers in Journal Club events, and video conference capability offers flexibility in the selection of presenters. Pennsylvania’s experience over the past 9 years demonstrates that with political will, commitment from content experts, and adequate administrative support, modest state and federal resources can be used to sustain public health training programs tailored to local needs.
doi:10.1089/bsp.2009.0005
PMCID: PMC2905881  PMID: 19635002
4.  Seroprevalence Following the Second Wave of Pandemic 2009 H1N1 Influenza in Pittsburgh, PA, USA 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11601.
Background
In April 2009, a new pandemic strain of influenza infected thousands of persons in Mexico and the United States and spread rapidly worldwide. During the ensuing summer months, cases ebbed in the Northern Hemisphere while the Southern Hemisphere experienced a typical influenza season dominated by the novel strain. In the fall, a second wave of pandemic H1N1 swept through the United States, peaking in most parts of the country by mid October and returning to baseline levels by early December. The objective was to determine the seroprevalence of antibodies against the pandemic 2009 H1N1 influenza strain by decade of birth among Pittsburgh-area residents.
Methods and Findings
Anonymous blood samples were obtained from clinical laboratories and categorized by decade of birth from 1920–2009. Using hemagglutination-inhibition assays, approximately 100 samples per decade (n = 846) were tested from blood samples drawn on hospital and clinic patients in mid-November and early December 2009. Age specific seroprevalences against pandemic H1N1 (A/California/7/2009) were measured and compared to seroprevalences against H1N1 strains that had previously circulated in the population in 2007, 1957, and 1918. (A/Brisbane/59/2007, A/Denver/1/1957, and A/South Carolina/1/1918). Stored serum samples from healthy, young adults from 2008 were used as a control group (n = 100). Seroprevalences against pandemic 2009 H1N1 influenza varied by age group, with children age 10–19 years having the highest seroprevalence (45%), and persons age 70–79 years having the lowest (5%). The baseline seroprevalence among control samples from 18–24 year-olds was 6%. Overall seroprevalence against pandemic H1N1 across all age groups was approximately 21%.
Conclusions
After the peak of the second wave of 2009 H1N1, HAI seroprevalence results suggest that 21% of persons in the Pittsburgh area had become infected and developed immunity. Extrapolating to the entire US population, we estimate that at least 63 million persons became infected in 2009. As was observed among clinical cases, this sero-epidemiological study revealed highest infection rates among school-age children.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011601
PMCID: PMC2904390  PMID: 20644650
5.  Training Programs to Strengthen Pennsylvania's Public Health Response 
This report describes Pennsylvania's 9-year experience in implementing training programs to strengthen public health response to emerging infectious diseases. During the biannual 3-5-day-long Pennsylvania Public Health Institute (PHI) events, which have been held since 2000, courses have covered topics such as emerging infectious disease outbreaks, monitoring of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens in retail food, and zoonotic diseases commonly associated with companion animals. Core competency courses include the legal basis for public health and epidemiology for nonepidemiologists. Emerging infectious disease seminars offered to clinicians since 2005 have focused on the emergence of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Complementing the PHI, the Pennsylvania Department of Health's monthly Epidemiology Journal Club offers additional interactions with presenters from academic institutions and federal agencies. Lunch-time forums also provide a venue for health department staff to share their work with colleagues. Innovative use of modern communication technology increases participation of frontline health workers in Journal Club events, and video conference capability offers flexibility in the selection of presenters. Pennsylvania's experience over the past 9 years demonstrates that with political will, commitment from content experts, and adequate administrative support, modest state and federal resources can be used to sustain public health training programs tailored to local needs.
doi:10.1089/bsp.2009.0005
PMCID: PMC2905881  PMID: 19635002
6.  Public Health Assessment of Potential Biological Terrorism Agents 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(2):225-230.
doi:10.3201/eid0802.010164
PMCID: PMC2732458  PMID: 11897082
bioterrorism; biological agents; bioterrorism preparedness

Results 1-6 (6)