Thomas Novotny

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Thomas Novotny, M.D., M.P.H. is an epidemiologist and is considered an expert in health care costs with regard to tobacco. He is Director of International Programs, at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine. He has a long and distinguished career in global public health.

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Dr. Novotny graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the UCSF Family Practice Residency in Santa Rosa, California, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He served for 23-years in the United States Public Health Service. During his career, he was also a National Health Service Corps Family Physician stationed in northern California, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CDC liaison to the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, and CDC liaison to the World Bank. Most recently he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International and Refugee Health in the Department of Health and Human Services and an Assistant Surgeon General.

Dr. Novotny specializes in epidemiology and worked on the Centers for Disease Control study, released in July 1994, on the U.S. health costs tied to cigarette smoking. "Cigarette smoking in the U.S. costs the national economy at least $50 billion a year in direct medical expenses." The Centers for Disease Control "estimates that about $2.06 was spent on avoidable medical care costs for each of the 24 billion packs of cigarettes sold in the U.S. last year." The Centers for Disease Control estimates that cigarette smoking was the cause of about 7% of all U.S. health care costs, with the federal and state government picking up more than 43% of the expense (Wall Street Journal, 7/8/94). The Centers for Disease Control, working with researchers at the University of California, examined data from the 1987 National Medical Expenditures Survey (NMES) and from the Health Care Financing Administration. In the NMES report, 35,000 people were interviewed four times between February 1987 and May 1988. The survey respondents were asked to provide information about their health-insurance coverage, use of medical care and medical care expenditures. The survey results were then adjusted for 1993 (WSJ 7/8/94). Epidemiologist Thomas Novotny worked on the study. Novotny says the $50 billion figure is conservative because it does not include costs from burn victims from cigarette-related fires, perinatal care for low-birth-weight infants of mothers who smoke, or costs associated with disease caused by second-hand smoke (WSJ 7/8/94).


Thomas E. Novotny, MD, MPH
Director of International Programs,
University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine
Box 1390, 530 Parnassus Avenue, Campus Library Suite 366
San Francisco, CA. 94143 - 1390

Phone: 415-476-3115
Fax: 415-514-9345

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