By Elizabeth Fernandez | UCSF.edu | September 20, 2013
UC San Francisco will receive a five-year, $20 million grant as part of a first-of-its-kind tobacco science regulatory program by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The overall aim is to conduct programs of multidisciplinary research that will inform the FDA's regulation of the manufacture, distribution and marketing of tobacco products to protect public health.
UCSF is one of 14 institutions nationally to be awarded the new Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS) grants.
The UCSF principal investigator is Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.
"We have identified serious problems in the way that the FDA has done cost-benefit analysis of major tobacco regulations, most notably warning labels on cigarette packages," Glantz said. "In particular, the FDA underestimated the immediate benefits of smoking prevention and cessation, and based its behavioral assumptions on outmoded ideas.
"By combining cutting-edge economic research with modern behavior studies, and studies of the immediate effects of smoke exposure on the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, we hope to help the FDA develop more realistic cost-benefit models that will better support sensible regulation."
Science-Based Approach to Tobacco Regulation
Altogether, the 14 new centers will receive $53 million in federal funding for tobacco-related research in fiscal year 2013, and potentially $273 million over the next five years.
"For the first time … the federal government … is able to bring science-based regulation to the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of tobacco products," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, in a statement. "The FDA is committed to a science-based approach that addresses the complex public health issues raised by tobacco product regulation."
Representing a significant investment in federal tobacco regulatory science, the new centers will be comprised of scientists with expertise in fields including epidemiology, behavior, biology, medicine, economics, chemistry, toxicology, addictions, public health, communications and marketing. The UCSF TCORS spans all these areas.
Despite decades of work to reduce tobacco use in the U.S., it continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease.
"While we've made tremendous strides in reducing the use of tobacco products in the U.S., smoking still accounts for one in five deaths each year, which is far too many," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, in a statement. "FDA/NIH partnerships like the Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science keep us focused on reducing the burden and devastation of preventable disease caused by tobacco use."