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Kenneth Michael Cummings PhD, MPH

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  • Professor
  • College of Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Academic Focus
  • Tobacco Control, Smoking Cessation, Nicotine Dependence
  • Tobacco Policy Research
  • Cancer Prevention & Control
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Dr. Cummings has a Master’s degree and PhD. in Health Education and Health Behavior from the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and member of the Hollings Cancer Center’s Cancer Prevention and Control Program where he co-leads the tobacco control research program. He joined the MUSC faculty in October 2011 and has been involved in establishing a tobacco dependence treatment service for patients seen in the University hospital and outpatient clinics. Before coming to MUSC, Dr. Cummings worked at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) in Buffalo, New York, where he was a senior research scientist and Chairman of the Department of Health Behavior.

Dr. Cummings training and research interests are in the study of health related behaviors, especially tobacco use prevention and cessation. His research is primarily population based with a focus on smoking cessation, consumer risk perceptions, the impact of cigarette design on smoking behaviors, and the evaluation of public policies on tobacco use behaviors. Recognized internationally for his work in tobacco epidemiology and smoking cessation, Dr. Cummings has guided global public policy and regulations in the marketing and distribution of nicotine products. This work has involved designing studies to understand factors involved in predicting uptake and cessation of tobacco use and the testing of interventions to alter tobacco use behaviors at both the individual and population level. In 2002, Dr. Cummings established the International Tobacco Research Policy Evaluation Project (ITC Project) to evaluate the behavioral impacts of national level tobacco control policies implemented as part of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). This international project began in 2002 and involves over 100 scientific colleagues from more than 20 countries and includes a wide range of research projects ranging from those focused on biological factors that influence tobacco use to the impact of health warnings and public education campaigns on representative populations of smokers. As part of his work with the ITC Project he has served as the PI on three large multi-institutional NIH grants (P50 CA111236: 2004-2009, P01 CA138389: 2009-2016, P01 CA200512: 2016-2021).  Data from the ITC Project has become an important source of the evidence base used by governments and public health advocates to support tobacco control policy initiatives around the world. Over his 35-year career he has directed more than 70 grants and contracts and has published over 430 scientific papers including landmark reports for the Office of the Surgeon General, the National Cancer Institute, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the Institute of Medicine.  In the late 1990s, Cummings contributed to digitizing and publishing online previously secret internal tobacco industry documents which described how manufacturers directed their marketing to attract youthful replacement smokers and designed cigarettes in ways that make it hard for smokers to quit once they get addicted to nicotine.  Because of his vast expertise in smoking behavior and knowledge of industry documents he has served as an expert witness in legal proceedings against cigarette manufacturers, including proceedings that resulted in the Master Settlement Agreement in 1998. In 2009, Dr. Cummings was awarded the prestigious Luther Terry award given out by the American Cancer Society in recognition of his research contributions to the field of public health.