Policy Research

Overview

With the proliferation of potential modified risk tobacco products and other novel (non-cigarette) tobacco products, policymakers in the U.S. and abroad require evidence to inform effective regulatory strategies and set priorities for tobacco control. Policy research being conducted at VCU’s Center for the Study of Tobacco Products (CSTP) informs a broad array of stakeholders including state and local governments in Virginia, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Surgeon General and the World Health Organization.

VCU’s CSTP engages in global tobacco policy research through its designation as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Tobacco Product Testing and Research. Locally, the VCU CSTP is curating a series of policy briefs aimed at informing state and local legislation on potential modified risk tobacco products and other novel tobacco products in the Commonwealth of Virginia. These two exemplars of the VCU CTSP’s ongoing policy research are described in more detail below.

VCU’s WHO Collaborating Centre for Tobacco Product Testing and Research

VCU’s Center for the Study of Tobacco Products (CSTP) is proud to have been designated, in September, 2014, a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre (WHO CC) for Tobacco Product Testing and Research. In the words of WHO, “WHO collaborating centres are institutions such as research institutes, parts of universities or academies, which are designated by the Director-General to carry out activities in support of the Organization's programmes. Currently there are over 700 WHO collaborating centres in over 80 Member States working with WHO on areas such as nursing, occupational health, communicable diseases, nutrition, mental health, chronic diseases and health technologies.”

The VCU WHO CC has four primary aims:

  1. Dissemination of methods: To disseminate novel methods used for the comprehensive evaluation of potential modified risk tobacco products and other novel (non-cigarette) tobacco products
  2. Dissemination of research results: To provide research results and support for evaluation of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Devices (ENDS, a.k.a. electronic cigarettes)
  3. Training: To train scientists in methods used to evaluate potential modified risk tobacco products and other novel (non-cigarette) tobacco products
  4. Prepare educational materials: To prepare briefing documents and educational materials related to the evaluation and effects of potential modified risk tobacco products and other novel (non-cigarette) tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes

While there is considerable overlap between these aims and the overall goals of the CSTP, the support provided the VCU WHO CC from the VCU Department of Psychology, Massey Cancer Center and the Office of the Provost allows unique contributions to the WHO's primary aims. For example, with respect to dissemination of methods, VCU WHO CC scientists have collaborated with the WHO’s TobLabNet to develop methods to assess the toxicant content of smoke that emerges from a waterpipe (hookah, narghile, shisha).

With respect to dissemination of research results, VCU WHO CC scientists contributed to the second edition of “Advisory Note: Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking: Health Effects, Research Needs and Recommended Actions for Regulators.” In addition, the VCU WHO CC was a co-sponsor of a supplement to the journal Tobacco Control on waterpipe tobacco smoking.

In terms of training, VCU’s CSTP provides training opportunities for predoctoral and postdoctoral level individuals and, in the WHO context, offers the opportunity for qualified trainees to complete a three-month internship at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland (this all-expense-paid internship is supported by funds provided by VCU Department of Psychology, Massey Cancer Center and the Office of the Provost). Interns work closely with WHO staff to support the work of the WHO while learning about international regulatory processes and methods.

Finally, with regard to educational materials and briefing documents, VCU WHO CC scientists have worked closely with WHO to develop materials submitted to the Conference of the Parties of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to help guide their deliberations on waterpipe tobacco smoking and electronic cigarette use. The VCU WHO CC has also supported development of a series of videos, in English and Arabic, aimed at informing young people of health and other issues related to waterpipe tobacco smoking (see below).

To learn more about the VCU WHO CC and the opportunities it provides, please contact Dr. Thomas Eissenberg at teissenb@vcu.edu.

Video: Addressing the Myths of Hookah
Video: Reasons to Say No
Video: Quitting May Be Harder Than You Think
Video: Nonsmokers Are Inhaling Hookah Smoke Too

VCU’s CSTP Policy Brief Series

With youth and young adults in Virginia becoming increasingly more likely to use non-cigarette tobacco products, like electronic cigarettes, decision-makers in the Commonwealth need access to timely and reliable evidence tailored for them to inform tobacco prevention and control policies. VCU’s Center for the Study of Tobacco Products’ policy brief series provides this important information.

The briefs in the series, “The State of Hookah Smoking and Tobacco Control Policy in Virginia,” and “Surveying the Policy Environment for E-cigarettes in Virginia,” are available below. New briefs on emerging issues in potential modified risk tobacco products and other novel (non-cigarette) tobacco products are released every few months.

If you would like to see a specific policy or topic related to novel tobacco products addressed in an upcoming brief, please contact Andrew J. Barnes, Ph.D. at abarnes3@vcu.edu.

This research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number U54DA036105 and the Center for Tobacco Products of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the views of the NIH or the FDA.

WHO Collaborating Centre for Tobacco Product Testing and Research