Regional researchers to share roughly $20M, study flavored tobacco
Research teams at the University of Rochester Medical Center and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center will share a five-year federal grant of more than $19 million to create the nation’s first program dedicated to the study of flavored tobacco.
One of only nine projects to earn funding through the federal Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science program, the WNY Center for Research on Flavored Tobacco Products, or CRoFT, will unite teams from URMC and Roswell Park in an effort to better document and understand one of the fastest-growing trends in tobacco use. Based at Roswell Park, the program will be led by Richard O’Connor and Maciej Goniewicz, both internationally recognized experts on tobacco use and its health consequences. The Roswell Park team will analyze various combustible and electronic tobacco products, their consequences for health and how users interact with these products.
Collaborators from URMC, led by Irfan Rahman and Deborah Ossip, will contribute critical resources in biomarker screening, genetic analysis and toxicology assessment.
“There are a number of flavoring chemicals that are regarded as safe for incorporation into food and drink, but we have such limited data about what happens when these products are inhaled,” said Rahman, professor of environmental medicine, dentistry, pulmonary medicine and public health sciences at URMC. “We’re going to study the impact on public health when these chemicals are added to e-cigarettes, vape pens, Juul and other pods, hookahs, waterpipes, cigars and cigarillos (little cigars) to be a resource for both policymakers and the general public.”
The TCORS program was initiated five years ago by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health to generate evidence to inform the FDA’s regulatory activities. The CRoFT team will pursue projects in four main areas:
- Assessing flavorant toxicity
- Characterizing flavors and their impact on behavior
- Determining respiratory effects of flavors
- Evaluating the effects of product marketing
The team will seek input from hundreds of tobacco and e-cigarette users as it pursues this work, implementing several surveys and clinical studies. The funding will help with seminars, workshops and other community outreach to inform the public of possible health hazards associated with emerging flavorings in tobacco products, Ossip said.