(COLLEGE STATION, TX) — Brian Colwell, Ph.D., associate professor and head of the Department of Social and Behavioral Health at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health, is this year’s recipient of the Health Promotion Medal of Excellence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Directors of Health Promotion and Education.

The award recognizes a state level health educator whose work has made a contribution to the state’s capacity to apply science to the field of health education and health promotion. It will be presented at the National Conference of Health Education and Health Promotion, May 24-26 in Washington, D.C.

With Dr. Dennis Smith from the University of Houston, Dr. Colwell created the Adolescent Tobacco Cessation Program. In one study, the researchers showed a 35 percent cessation rate for adolescents attending the program.

“I’m pleased Dr. Colwell’s important work in reducing tobacco use in adolescents is being recognized,” said Ciro V. Sumaya, M.D., M.P.H.T.M, dean of the HSC-School of Rural Public Health.

According to the CDC’s 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey for Texas, 59 percent of adolescents have tried cigarette smoking. Twenty-four percent had smoked cigarettes in the month prior to the survey, and 8 percent had smoked for more than 20 days in the month prior to the survey. Those who do not start smoking before high school are unlikely to pick up the habit following high school.

Dr. Colwell notes while nearly 20 percent of Texas adults smoke, programs like the Adolescent Tobacco Cessation Program, which are based on applying behavioral science to developing community-level interventions, have the potential to lead to further reductions in smoking rates, thereby improving the health of all Texans.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell