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Santé, population, société (EPFL)

  • Teacher(s):  
  • English title: Health, populations and society
  • Course given in: French
  • ECTS Credits:
  • Schedule: Spring Semester 2020-2021, 0.0h. course (weekly average)
  •  sessions
  • site web du cours course website
  • Related programmes:
    Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Economics

    Bachelor (BSc) in Economic Sciences

    Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Management
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At the end of this course the student should be able to:

  • Describe the main interactions between health and society
  • Evaluate the impact of the history of tobacco on the evolution of society
  • Identify the keys to understand the Swiss legislation in force
  • Describe the basis for measuring the burden of disease
  • Judge the toxicological aspects of smoke in the occupational and environmental field
  • Explain the genetic associations between DNA modification and certain diseases or behaviours
  • Put the impact of smoking in perspective with economic aspects
  • Explain the performance of the Swiss health system
  • Formulate WHO strategies to reduce the impact of tobacco use
  • Describe management practices for the tobacco patient
  • Recognize the relevance of new alternatives to tobacco products

Course limited to 16 HEC students


This course uses tobacco as a common thread to explore the various dimensions of a major public health problem and its multiple implications. The teacher will extend the discussion related to tobacco products to other similar issues. Global health issues will be addressed.

Introduction to Public Health:
The health of individuals and populations is a basic component of the functioning of any society. This course will examine the determinants of health of individuals and populations using tobacco as an example. The paradigms used are those of public health, defined as the science and art of providing adequate responses to the health needs of human populations. The course also addresses the major demographic changes observed worldwide, which have a considerable impact on the organization of society and affect health. (M. Bochud, UNISANTE, UNIL)

Burden of disease project and burden of disease associated with tobacco use:
The burden of disease project is an ambitious project to measure the "burden" of disease in populations, the fractions of diseases due to different risk factors or exposures, and their trends over time. These variables are essential for the prioritization of health policies, in particular, and development policies, in general. Elements of the methodology of this global project are presented, as well as results and forecasts related to tobacco use and the diseases it causes. (J.-L. Bulliard, UNISANTE, UNIL)

Tobacco use among youth:
This course will examine the epidemiology of tobacco use among youth, through the identification of risk factors and protective factors against smoking initiation. We will also examine the influence of new tobacco products and the main strategies to reduce tobacco use among youth.(J.C. Suris, CHUV, UNIL)

History of tobacco and health:
From a medical humanities perspective, this course aims to trace the main milestones, debates and issues related to tobacco and health from the beginning of the industrial manufacture of cigarettes in the 1880s to the present day. (J. Olivier, IHM, UNIL)

The legislation on tobacco products in Switzerland:
The reduction of smoking depends very much on the legal environment for these products. The course will discuss the rationale and various issues surrounding legislation and regulations for the promotion of public health. The course will also examine the question of "legal illiteracy"? (D. Sprumont, IDS, UNINE)

Environmental issues of tobacco use:
While the health effects of tobacco use are well documented, the environmental impacts of tobacco use are less well known. This course will address the environmental impact of tobacco use at various stages, from the cultivation and curing of tobacco to the manufacture, distribution and consumption of cigarettes (I. Jacot Sadowski, UNISANTE, UNIL).

Smoking, toxicology and environmental health:
This course deals with health at the workplace and extends the considerations to the environment by discussing the composition of smoke and the risks to those exposed (D. Vernez, UNISANTE, UNIL).

Medical management of tobacco addiction:
Tobacco is highly addictive, both physically, behaviorally and psychologically. This course describes the mechanisms of addiction, the benefits of quitting smoking and the various medical and pharmacological interventions to help people quit and their effectiveness (I. Jacot Sadowski, UNISANTE, UNIL).

New alternative products and issues:
There are now new ways to consume nicotine, such as vaporization, heated tobacco products and snus. This course summarizes current knowledge about these products and their potential public health roles. (J. Cornuz, UNISANTE, UNIL)

Tobacco prevention measures:
Using the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) as a reference, this course will discuss effective structural and behavioral prevention measures to reduce tobacco use. While the former (regulatory and legislative measures) aim to create supportive environments for a tobacco-free life, the latter (education, communication, training and public awareness) aim to strengthen people's knowledge and skills. The course will be exemplified by the presentation of local projects and interventions, which will provide an opportunity to discuss the challenges and levers of tobacco prevention efforts. (K. Zürcher, UNISANTE, UNIL)

Tobacco consumption: medical-economic issues:
The economic and health issues related to tobacco consumption are complex and differ according to the point of view of the main actors: consumers, patients, health care system, tobacco industry, community, etc. This course will address these issues using the tools of health economics. In particular, we will discuss the impact of tobacco use on health care utilization and health care costs, as well as the cost-benefit ratio of different prevention measures.(J. Marti, UNISANTE, UNIL)

Social inequalities and tobacco use:
In most countries there are social inequalities in health and tobacco use. This course will introduce social inequalities in health and how smoking and other risk behaviours impact them. We will discuss the issues at stake and the impact of possible strategies to reduce social inequalities in health in general and to reduce social differences in smoking prevalence in particular. (S. Stringhini, UNISANTE, UNIL)

Genetics, smoking and health:
The concept of studies of associations between genetic heritage and observable health (phenotype) will be introduced. Then, it will be described how to examine DNA variations in the general population in a cost-effective manner and to what extent these DNA changes influence complex human traits, including obesity, mortality up to behavioural traits, such as smoking and education level. It will also examine how genotype may influence the effect of smoking on human lifespan and genetic predisposition to disease. (Z. Kutalik, UNISANTE, UNIL)


First attempt

Without exam (cf. terms)  

Continuous evaluation through the semester + 1 personal work.

Pending EPFL guidelines, the evaluation format will be confirmed later.


Without exam (cf. terms)  

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