Gregory N. Connolly

Gregory N. Connolly

Surprisingly, the director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at the Harvard School of Public Health was once a smoker himself. Working with emphysema patients at Boston’s Carney Hospital inspired him to quit. He has since taken up healthier hobbies--he and his wife, Susan, have a 70-acre farm in Vermont and, he says, “I could cut wood all day long”--but he’s devoted his career to freeing others from nicotine addiction. His work has taken him all over the world to advise countries on curbing smoking. Although that is his long-term goal, he admits that places like Greece and Armenia, with some of the globe’s highest smoking rates, are “nirvana” for researchers. (In Massachusetts, where only 14 percent of people report smoking daily, doing research “is really, really hard. We just don’t have the subjects.”) Connolly has led studies in settings from pubs (measuring airborne particles pre- and post-smoking ban) to playgrounds (using GPS data to show that tobacco companies were targeting children with billboards). He has lectured to Major League Baseball players about the dangers of smokeless tobacco--earning the nickname “Dr. Chew” from one team. He spent 17 years with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, overseeing a comprehensive tobacco-control campaign, including ads that became a national and international model, and leaving just before the state enacted its 2004 ban on smoking in public places. He soon ran afoul of the ban in his new role as professor of the practice of public health: to allow smoking in his lab, so he could study new theories of nicotine addiction, he recalls, “We were told, ‘You’re breaking state law.’ We had to get an exemption.”

You might also like

Harvard Overhauls Disciplinary Procedures

To cope with violations of University statement on rights and responsibilities

Harvard’s Development Chief Departs

Brian Lee to step down at end of 2024

Immigrant Workers— America’s Engine?

Harvard economist Jason Furman on immigration and the U.S. economy.

Most popular

Mechanical Intelligence and Counterfeit Humanity

Reflections on six decades of relations with computers

The Power of Patience

Teaching students the value of deceleration and immersive attention

The Way of The Blockbuster

In entertainment, big bets on likely winners rule.

More to explore

Relabeling Medical Definitions for Obesity in the United States

For obesity patients, improved treatments and a nuanced understanding of the disease may lead to better health.

How Was Brooklyn Bridge Park Planned?

Michael Van Valkenburgh and the making of Brooklyn Bridge Park

The Mystery Behind an Incan Tunic

Unraveling an Inca masterpiece’s secrets