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. Dr. Cummings’ is currently the principal investigator of a NIH funded program project which involves a multi-institutional research consortium designed to evaluate the psychosocial, behavioral, and product-related impacts of the tobacco control policies which are part of the World Health Organization’s 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. He has authored or co-authored over 420 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.
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. He helped to establish and run the New York State Smokers’ Quitline.