Tobacco Research in Ohio to Benefit the Entire Nation

March 16, 2014 8:24 am Tobacco Grant

Do some people take up tobacco because of how it’s marketed to them, or is it because they’re genetically predisposed to using it? Maybe it’s the influence of family and friends that spurs someone to light up?

Whatever the causes, we’re about to find out.

For the next five years, researchers at the OSUCCC – James will do a deep dive into multiple studies designed to find out exactly what makes young and old alike take up tobacco, a deadly habit.

An $18 million grant from the National Cancer Institute is aimed at getting to the crux of tobacco-usage patterns so the Food and Drug Administration can firmly base tobacco regulations on scientific evidence.

“Tobacco usage of all types is way too high,” says Peter Shields, MD, deputy director of the OSUCCC. “On average, one in five Ohioans smokes, and in southern Ohio it’s almost one in two. This state has one of the highest smoking-related mortality rates in the nation, and that’s alarming.”

But Shields says there is good news. By studying tobacco-users and usage patterns in Ohio, researchers at The OSUCCC – James will be able to shed light on tobacco’s ramifications across the country.

“This is a fabulous opportunity in which our research has a direct line on policy,” Shields says. “The FDA, which regulates tobacco products, needs answers so it can make better policy.”

The OSUCCC – James will conduct studies that will clearly show not only how people use tobacco products and what sways their decisions, but also what their toxic exposures are and what will influence them to quit.

“We’re also looking at genetic predispositions to see who is more likely to get addicted,” Shields says. “Just like there is no routine cancer, there is no routine way to get cancer or use tobacco products.”

What does that mean for people who are using tobacco? The FDA will have a better understanding of what goes into tobacco products and how they’re designed and marketed. That knowledge will help it decide what policies to adopt to better protect tobacco users – and to help prevent new users from taking up the toxic habit.

“Smoking and other tobacco use cause cancer as well as any number of other health problems – we know that,” Shields says. “But it’s amazing that we still have a lot of scientific gaps that, if closed, could help the FDA identify better policy mechanisms. This research will help us close those gaps and get us even closer to a cancer-free world.”

If you or someone you know uses tobacco and would like to quit, ask your doctor, or visit www.tobaccofree.osu.edu.

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