New FDA/NIH Tobacco Research Center initiative announcements

The new TCORS 2.0 and CASEL RFAs have just been published.

Below is information about the new RFAs and upcoming webinars. The TRSP Web Team is still in the process of making the webinar landing pages on the TRSP website live (the second sub bullet under each RFA), but they should be live soon. Registration for the webinars (first sub-bullet under each RFA) is open now, however.

RFA-OD-17-002 — Center for Coordination of Analytics, Science, Enhancement, and Logistics (CASEL) in Tobacco Regulatory Science (U54)

Webinar to be held March 27, 2017 from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm Eastern

TRSP CASEL webinar landing page with agenda (not yet live but will be soon)–

RFA-OD-17-003 — Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science for Research Relevant to the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (U54)

Webinar to be held March 27, 2017 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm Eastern

TCORS 2.0 Webinar URL and registration site (live)–

TRSP TCORS 2.0 webinar landing page with agenda (not yet live but will be soon)–

Tobacco Regulatory Science journal: New Method to Learn What Products are Sold in Vape Shops

A recent paper published in Tobacco Regulatory Science demonstrated the results of a new type of survey, the Vape Shop Standardized Tobacco Assessment for Retail Settings (V-STARS).  This survey was used in New Hampshire vape shop retailers to assess product availability, price promotions, and messaging.

Store audits were conducted in 55 stores between January and February 2016 using the Vape Shop Standardized Tobacco Assessment for Retail Settings (V-STARS). Results: Modifiable devices and cig-alikes were sold in 92.6% and 14.6% of stores, respectively. Cross-product promotions with tobacco products were rare, and messaging promoting e-cigarettes as effective cessation devices was found in 27.3% of all stores. Candy/fruit and menthol e-liquids were most commonly found in stores, and sampling of products was available in 83.6% of stores. Ten (18.2%) stores did not have a minimum age sign posted, and self-service sampling displays were available in about one-fifth of stores.

New issue Tobacco Regulatory Science is now available @

The April-June issue of Tobacco Regulatory Science has now been published (  Topics in this issue include research on flavored tobacco use among youth, analysis of a vape shop assessment instrument, recall of e-cigarette advertising by youth, smokefree policy in public housing, and a variety of other topics relevant to tobacco regulation.  Our website now also includes a forum for discussion of those papers, and other topics.   Check it out!!

Philly Housing Authority’s smoking ban cuts secondhand exposure by half

New in Tobacco Regulatory Science, Volume 3, Number 2, April 2017, pp. 192-203(12): Drs. Kassen et al. report that implementing second-hand smoke policy in multi-family housing units can lead to reduced second-hand smoke exposure. The full abstract is below.

Objectives: Multi-unit housing environments remain significant sources of secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure, especially for vulnerable populations in subsidized housing. In Philadelphia, the largest US housing authority to implement smoke-free policies, we measured baseline resident smoking-related behaviors and attitudes, and longitudinal exposures to airborne nicotine, during policy development and implementation. Methods: In 4 communities, we collected data in 2013, 2014, and 2016, before and after introduction of comprehensive smoke-free policies, interviewing persons in 172 households, and monitoring air-borne nicotine in non-smoking homes and public areas. Average nicotine level differences across years were estimated with multi-level models. Results: Fifty-six percent of respondents smoked. Only 37% of households were smoke- free, with another 41% restricting smoking by area or time of day. The number of locations with detectable nicotine did not differ before and after policy implementation, with approximately 20% of non-smoking homes and 70%-80% of public areas having detectable nicotine. However, public area nicotine levels were lower in 2016, after policy implementation, than in 2013 and 2014 (-0.19 μg/m3, p = .03). Conclusions: Findings suggest that initial policy implementation was associated with reduced SHS exposure in Philadelphia. As HUD strengthens smoke-free policies, SHS monitoring can be useful to educate stakeholders and build support for policy enforcement.

Click here to read the news article.

New study on smoking impact on genes that cause cancer

This study in Science provides added information on the causal pathway between tobacco exposure and cancer.  It’s a reminder that the mechanisms are potent and profound…

Mutational signatures associated with tobacco smoking in human cancer
Science  04 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6312, pp. 618-622
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag0299

Nicotine replacement as tobacco harm reduction

At a recent meeting, I had occasion to engage in a discussion about tobacco harm reduction, and an argument was made that there is insufficient support for a harm reduction approach, and that it could cause smokers to reduce their motivation to quit.  As the debate regarding tobacco harm reduction continues, I think it is important to remind the tobacco control community that harm reduction as a tobacco control strategy has been in place, and has been accepted FDA policy, for many years.  Nicotine replacement gum was approved for smoking cessation in 1984, and since that time several other nicotine replacement products have been approved as well.  Nicotine is not a benign substance.  In high doses, its toxicity can cause significant illness, and even death.  When delivered in specific ways, it can be highly addictive.  Thus, it is far less harmful than tobacco, but certainly not harmless; hence, it is a harm reduction approach to helping smokers quit.   Millions of smokers around the world have used nicotine replacement to quit smoking, and it is recognized by every major regulatory agency in world as a viable means of helping smokers move from combustible tobacco to nicotine.

Given this reality, the notion that tobacco harm reduction is not an acceptable approach per se is simply wrong.   Thus, a key question is how much harm reduction is acceptable as an alternative to combustible tobacco, not whether harm reduction is an approach to pursue.

Tobacco companies and combustibles…ambitions and end-game

As I read the article below in the Economist, it made me think again about whether tobacco companies are really serious about moving out of the combustible tobacco business.  If so, what might it take to speed that process?  And what do the members of a fractured tobacco control community hope will occur, and when?  It seems to me highly unlikely (and virtually impossible) that tobacco companies will just go away.  If that is correct, what can be done to facilitate their movement as quickly as possible out of the combustible tobacco business.  There are those who have begun to work with those companies to help them find alternative products, and there are those who continue to make business as difficult as possible for tobacco companies, eg via litigation, regulatory approaches to put pressure on the companies to move in new directions (eg taxation, smokefree policies, etc).  What is the right mix of positive reinforcers to help tobacco companies move away from combustibles and negative reinforcers that would make production and sales of combustibles increasingly non-viable??

Big tobacco’s new ambitions
A huge deal points to broad changes for cigarette makers
Oct 29th 2016