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University of Michigan

Tobacco & Nicotine: Public Health, Science, Policy, and Law

University of Michigan via Coursera


This course provides a strong foundation in the history of smoking and other tobacco and nicotine use; the individual and public health impact; tobacco use prevalence trends in adults, youth and key subpopulations; and how cigarette smoking came to be, and remains to this day, the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. and globally, despite the fact that tobacco control efforts have collectively constituted one of the most successful public health endeavors in our history.

The course also explores the role of the tobacco industry in the epidemic, as well as the pursuit of accountability and industry behavior change through legal action; the rapidly evolving tobacco and nicotine product marketplace; the unique and ever-changing regulatory and other policy challenges that have emerged; and the implications of this rapid change for public health today and in the future.

Hosted by lead instructor Cliff Douglas of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, the course features 18 experts in a range of tobacco control areas and issues. Through a series of lectures, interviews, readings, and assessments, the course tells the story of smoking and tobacco and nicotine product use, focusing on the specific - but not unique - story of the U.S., while also presenting important information and insights from elsewhere in the world.


  • Tobacco, Nicotine, and Health: The Current Landscape in the U.S.
    • This module provides an overview of the history and current state of the tobacco epidemic. You will learn about the health effects of both combustible and non-combustible tobacco and nicotine products, the causes of smoking, and key trends in cigarette and other tobacco/nicotine product use.
  • Tobacco Industry: Vector of the Smoking Epidemic
    • This module describes the strategies and tactics used by the tobacco industry that created and continue to perpetuate the smoking epidemic, and it also begins to explore the complexities of contemporary and potential future relationships between the public health community and the tobacco industry.
  • Tobacco Policy: History and Best Practices
    • This module introduces the major aspects of tobacco control policy interventions and their effects on tobacco consumption and health historically, in addition to newer policy approaches. You will learn about non-governmental policy interventions, state and federal level policy, and global policy as they relate to tobacco control, and you will understand the importance of considering unintended consequences of policy interventions.
  • Legal Action: The Pursuit of Accountability and Industry Behavior Change
    • This module provides a look into the legal strategies pursued to address the tobacco industry's impact on U.S. public health, covering the period of the 1950s to 2020 and beyond. Lectures and interviews provide first hand accounts of this fascinating and ongoing pursuit.
  • Tobacco Harm Reduction, Product Regulation, and the Continuum of Risk
    • This module explores the concept of harm reduction as it relates to tobacco control and encourages you to think critically about the controversies that have been raise in this ongoing debate. You will learn about alternative products and where they fall on the continuum of risk, issues of adult cessation and youth initiation, and some potential paths forward in terms of policy.
  • Using Modeling to Project the Impact of Tobacco Policy
    • This module provides an overview of modeling and its role in tobacco policy and tobacco regulatory science with a focus on the U.S. federal policy context. Three examples of how modeling has been used in this field are covered: menthol cigarette bans, youth nicotine use, and forecasting future smoking prevalence.
  • The Tobacco Endgame
    • This module describes the overall tobacco landscape, both in the U.S. and globally, and how tobacco control may look in the coming decades. Additionally, you will consider the "tobacco endgame" and complete a Peer Review assignment which allows you to choose an endgame strategy and analyze it. Finally, you will reflect on the issues within tobacco control that have been highlighted throughout this course.

Taught by

Cliff Douglas


5.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

Start your review of Tobacco & Nicotine: Public Health, Science, Policy, and Law

  • Caitlin Matos
    Another excellent course from the University of Michigan. It did get quite repetitive at times, however. I would like to give 4.5 stars but have rounded up to 5.

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