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Federal grant of $275,000 funds study of young adult attitudes toward flavored tobacco

Dr. Kymberle Sterling, assistant professor in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University, has received a two-year, $275,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute to study how young adult smokers perceive the risk of smoking flavored little cigars and cigarillos (LCCs), which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate.

The health risks associated with smoking flavored LCCs are very similar to those from cigarettes. They cause nicotine dependence and cancer.

The grant will allow Sterling, with investigators at the University of Hawaii-Manoa Cancer Center and the University of Maryland College Park School of Public Health, to develop a prognostic tool that identifies LCC risk perceptions and predicts susceptibility to smoke LCCs among young adult cigarette smokers.

Use of flavored LCCs is growing at an alarming rate among young adult cigarette smokers, especially those from ethnic minority groups. Preliminary data show young adult smokers enjoy the taste and smell of LCCs, consider smoking LCCs with peers as "cool" and feel they can quit LCCs anytime. Early indicators suggest these smokers believe LCCs are less harmful than cigarettes.

"Dr. Sterling's research, which adds to a growing body of tobacco expertise at Georgia State, will help inform how we respond to one of the latest threats in the battle against tobacco," noted School of Public Health dean and lead author of the "Tobacco Atlas," Michael P. Eriksen. "It is expected to help scientists and policy makers understand the ways in which young adult cigarette smokers think about and respond to risks related to flavored LCCs."

The 2010 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act authorized the FDA to regulate the manufacture, distribution and marketing of flavored cigarettes, with the exception of menthol cigarettes, but did not grant regulatory authority over flavored little cigars and cigarillos (LCCs). LCCs are tobacco products inhaled like cigarettes and similar in size, shape, filtering and tobacco pH.

The tobacco control community knows very little about how young adult cigarette smokers form risk perceptions of LCCs. Researchers believe understanding young adult smokers' attitudes is vital to effective regulatory policy as well as prevention methods.


Contact: Frances Marine
Georgia State University

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