This project is currently inactive. It was funded from 2013-2019.
The Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS) on Youth and Young Adults was comprised of three different University of Texas (UT) sites: the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Austin, UT Austin, and UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, each of which hosted 1 of 3 funded research projects. Additionally, Projects 1 and 2 included faculty from the Rutgers School of Public Health. Our overall goal was to develop an integrated program of research and training to provide scientific evidence, and a career path for regulatory scientists, to support US tobacco regulation. Watch the presentation below for more information on Texas TCORS.
Our vision was to eliminate the use of nicotine and tobacco products by young people to maximize public health.
Our mission was to provide professional training and scientific research on youth and young adult use of nicotine & tobacco products, and marketing methods targeted to this population, in order to inform and support effective, evidence-based regulation of nicotine & tobacco products.
Overview of TCORS
The passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act) in 2009 gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of tobacco products in order to protect public health. In association with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the FDA funded 14 Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS). The 14 Centers addressed a variety of tobacco-related issues, including epidemiology, economics, toxicology, constituents, and marketing. The research provided the FDA with sound and relevant scientific evidence upon which to base future tobacco regulatory actions and activities. Importantly, our TCORS was the only Center among the 14 TCORS that is specifically studying the impacts of tobacco and tobacco marketing on youth and young adults, which is the most vulnerable age group for beginning tobacco use and becoming addicted.
Tobacco Marketing and Alternative Tobacco Use among College Students
Young adult use of non-cigarette alternative tobacco products is becoming increasingly prevalent in the United States. Yet, there is limited information on the diversity of tobacco products used by young adults, the changes and patterns of use across time, and the impact of tobacco marketing on young adults’ use of non-cigarette. This project will establish a rapid response surveillance system to monitor, and respond to, changes in tobacco marketing and trends in young adults’ use of non-cigarette alternatives, including flavored products.
We will track changes in young adults’ tobacco use, brand preferences, and tobacco use perceptions and beliefs over the three years. Data will be collected from young adults from two subgroups (n = 4,056): students enrolled in 4-year colleges and those enrolled in 2-year vocational programs. Vocational students tend to occupy lower socio-economic status (SES) categories than students enrolled in 4-year colleges, are more likely to be racial/ethnic minorities, and to have higher rates of tobacco use. Disparities in rates of tobacco use between the two groups may be due to differential tobacco marketing, which targets minority and lower SES individuals more heavily than other groups. At the same time, we will conduct ongoing direct observation of tobacco print advertisements, brand websites, direct mail/email, and bar promotions. Data will characterize the tobacco marketing to which the two groups are exposed and in turn, examine the impact of marketing on changes in tobacco use over time.
Informing and Correcting Perceptions regarding Tobacco Products among Young Adults
With the decrease in the use of some conventional tobacco products (i.e. cigarettes), the use of others (e.g., smokeless tobacco [dip and chew] and cigars) has increased. Despite evidence to the contrary, new tobacco products are often perceived as less harmful to conventional tobacco products. There is a critical need to inform FDA communication of risk and harm of emerging tobacco products.
The ownership of mobile cellular phones with capacity for receipt of text messages is almost ubiquitous. This innovative mobile-phone text messaging project has two goals: 1) to assess awareness, attitudes, receptivity, and comprehension of harmful effects of conventional and new and emerging tobacco products among young adults; and 2) to examine and compare the efficacy of different types of text messages, with different types of tobacco products, to convey information to young adults regarding risks associated with tobacco product use.
For this study, we will recruit an ethnically diverse sample of students attending community colleges (n=640), each of which will be randomized to receive one of eight types of text messages. Each type of message will represent a combination of message characteristics guided by health communication theories. We will assess students’ comprehension of risks, awareness, attitudes, and receptivity in each group pre- and -post receipt of text messages over a 30-day message campaign period, and at 3-month follow-up. Following development of the message library we will enroll manageable samples over years 2-4.
Texas Adolescent Tobacco and Marketing Surveillance Study
The goal is to understand what types of electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) devices, like e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products, like cigarettes, cigars, and hookah, youth and young adults are using and why they use those products. Additionally, we study the effect of tobacco product marketing and other factors (e.g., product characteristics, intrapersonal and interpersonal influences) on youth tobacco use.