RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – RTI International will join Georgia State University's School of Public Health and the University of Illinois, Chicago to study the human and economic factors that affect people's decisions to use tobacco products.
The project, led by Georgia State, will receive $19 million over five years from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health to establish one of 14 Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS).
The center will conduct three research projects to examine the economic factors that influence tobacco use, consumer reaction to tobacco marketing at the point of purchase, and consumer perceptions about the risks of using tobacco products and novel tobacco product alternatives.
A first-of-its-kind regulatory science tobacco program, the Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science seek to generate research to inform the regulation of tobacco products to protect public health.
"Working with our colleagues on campus, our partners at UIC led by Frank Chaloupka and RTI led by Matthew Farrelly, as well as other TCORS across the country, our research will provide the kind of practical insight FDA and NIH policymakers need to inform their regulatory decisions," said Michael P. Eriksen, dean of Georgia State's School of Public Health. "This type of collaboration is absolutely essential to winning the ongoing battle against tobacco."
Despite decades of work to reduce its use in the United States, tobacco continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease.
"The tobacco industry spends a majority of its annual $8 billion advertising budget marketing tobacco products at retail stores," said Annice Kim, Ph.D., senior scientist at RTI and the co-investigator for RTI's part of the study. "Retail tobacco marketing has been shown to influence youth smoking, to encourage impulse tobacco purchases among adult smokers, and to influence relapse among recent quitters. We will use our virtual reality store RTI iSHOPPE™ to study how changing the retail environment, such as banning the display of tobacco products and mandating graphic antismoking warning labels, will influence consumer behaviors."
The FDA and NIH are establishing science and research programs to increase understanding of the risks associated with tobacco use. The program brings together investigators from across the country to aid in the development and evaluation of tobacco product regulations. Taken together, the 14 centers will increase knowledge across the spectrum of basic and applied research on tobacco and addiction.
Composed of scientists with expertise in fields including epidemiology, behavior, biology, medicine, economics, chemistry, toxicology, addictions, public health, communications and marketing, the TCORS program is the centerpiece of the FDA/NIH collaboration to foster research relevant to tobacco regulatory science. New research from TCORS will help inform and assess the impact of FDA's prior, ongoing and potential future tobacco regulatory activities implemented by the Center for Tobacco Products.