Texas Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science on Youth & Young Adults

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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.

Thumbnail image 1 for The Appeal of E-Cigarette Flavors

The Appeal of E-Cigarette Flavors

4/13/17 - This infographic describes how sweet and fruity flavors may be enticing younger Texans to try e-cigarettes.

Thumbnail image 1 for El Atractivo de los Sabores de Cigarillos Electrónicos

El Atractivo de los Sabores de Cigarillos Electrónicos

4/13/17 - Esta infografía describe cómo los sabores dulces pueden estar atrayendo a los jóvenes Texanos a probar los cigarrillos electrónicos.

Measuring perceptions related to e-cigarettes: Important principles and next steps to enhance study validity

(Gibson LA, Creamer MR, Breland AB, Giachello AL, Kaufman A, Kong G, Pechacek TF, Pepper JK, Soule EK, Halpern-Felsher B; Addict Behav.; 2018)

Establishing consensus on survey measures for electronic nicotine and non-nicotine delivery system use: current challenges and considerations for researchers

(Weaver SR, Kim H, Glasser AM, Sutfin EL, Barrington-Trimis J, Payne TJ, Saddleson M, Loukas A; Addict Behav.; 2018)

Whose post is it? Predictive e-cigarette brand from social media brand page posts

(Vandewater EA, Clendennen SL, Hèbert ET, Bigman GT, Jackson C, Wilkinson AV, Perry CL; Tob Reg Sci.; 2018)

Longitudinal predictors of cigarette use among students from 24 Texas colleges

(Creamer MR, Loukas A, Clendennen S, Mantey D, Pasch K, Marti CN, Perry CL; J Am Coll Health; 2018)

Flavored cigars appeal to younger, female, and racial/ethnic minority college students

(Hinds JT, Li X, Loukas A, Pasch K, Perry CL; Nicotine Tob Res.; 2018)

Very light smoking and alternative tobacco use among college students

(Li X, Loukas A, Perry CL; Addict Behav.; 2018)

Receptivity of young adult hookah users to health warning labels

(Ly C, Nicksic N, Loukas A, Prokhorov A, Perry CL; Tob Regul Sci.; 2018)

Real Time assessment of young adults' attitudes towards tobacco messages

(Hébert ET, Vandewater EA, Businelle MS, Harrell MB, Kelder SH, Perry CL; Tob Regul Sci.; 2018)

E-cigarette use and cigarette smoking cessation among Texas college students

(Mantey D, Loukas A, Cooper MR, Perry CL; American Journal of Health Behavior; 2017)

Positive outcome expectations and tobacco product use behaviors in youth

(Creamer MR, Delk J, Case K, Perry CL, Harrell M; Subst Use Misuse.; 2017)

Recall of point-of-sale marketing predicts cigar and e-cigarette use among Texas youth

(Pasch KE, Nicksic NE, Opara SC, Jackson C, Harrell MB, Perry CL; Nicotine Tob Res.; 2017)

Geospatial associations between retail tobacco outlets and current use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes among youth in Texas

(Pérez A, Chien LC, Harrell MB, Pasch KE, Obinwa UC, Perry CL; J Biom Biostat.; 2017)

Exposure and engagement with tobacco- and e-cigarette-related social media

(Hébert ET, Case KR, Kelder SH, Delk J, Perry CL, Harrell MB; J Adolesc Health. 2017)

Depressive symptoms predict current e-cigarette use among college students in Texas

(Bandiera FC, Loukas A, Li X, Wilkinson AV, Perry CL; Nicotine Tob Res. 2017)

Exclusive e-cigarette use predicts cigarette initiation among college students addictive behaviors

(Loukas A, Marti CN, Cooper M, Pasch K, Perry CL; Addict Behav.; 2017)

Implementation of a Computerized Tablet-Survey in an Adolescent Large-Scale, School-Based Study

(Delk J, Harrell MB, Fakhouri T, Muir K, Perry CL; J Sch Health; 2017)

Source credibility and e-cigarette attitudes: Implications for tobacco communication

(Case KR, Lazard AJ, Mackert MS, Perry CL; Health Commun; 2017)

The association between sensation seeking and e-cigarette use in Texas young adults: A cross-sectional study

(Case K, Loukas A, Harrell M, Wilkinson A, Springer A, Pérez A, Creamer M, Perry CL; J Am Coll Health. 2017)

Sexual and gender minority college students and tobacco use in Texas

(Hinds JT, Loukas A, Perry CL.; Nicotine Tob Res.; 2017)

Feasibility and reliability of a mobile tool to evaluate exposure to tobacco product marketing and messages using ecological momentary assessment

(Hébert ET, Vandewater EA, Businelle MS, Harrell MB, Kelder SH, Perry CL; Addict Behav; 2017)

Texas Adolescent Tobacco and Marketing Surveillance System’s design

(Pérez A, Harrell MB, Malkani RI, Jackson CD, Delk J, Allotey PA, Matthews, KJ, Martinez P, Perry CL; Tob Regul Sci.; 2017)

Subjective experiences at first use of cigarette, e-cigarettes, hookah, and cigar products among Texas adolescents

(Mantey DS, Harrell MB, Case K, Crook B, Kelder SH, Perry CL; Drug Alcohol Depend; 2017)

Flavored Tobacco Product Use among Youth and Young Adults: What if Flavors Didn’t Exist?

(Harrell MB, Loukas A, Jackson CD, Marti CN, Perry CL; Tob Regul Sci.; 2017)

Recall of e-cigarette advertisements and adolescent e-cigarette use

(Nicksic N, Harrell MB, Pérez A, Pasch K, Perry CL; Tob Regul Sci.; 2017)

The cigarette and smokeless tobacco markets in Texas relative to the United States

(Miller Lo EJ, Giovenco DP, Wackowski OA, Harrell MB, Perry CL, Delnevo CD; Tob Regul Sci.; 2017)

In Their Own Words: Young Adults' Menthol Cigarette Initiation, Perceptions, Experiences and Regulation Perspectives

(Wackowski OA, Evans KR, Harrell M, Loukas A, Lewis MJ, Delnevo CD, Perry CL; Nicotine Tob Res; 2017)

College students' perceptions and knowledge of hookah use

(Creamer MR, Loukas A, Li X, Pasch KE, Case K, Crook B, Perry CL; Drug Alcohol Depend; 2016)

Flavored e-cigarette use: Characterizing youth, young adult, and adult users

(Harrell MB, Weaver SR, Loukas A, Creamer M, Marti CN, Jackson CD, Heath JW, Nayak P, Perry CL, Pechacek TF, Eriksen MP; Preventative Medicine Reports; 2016)

Flavorings and Perceived Harm and Addictiveness of E-cigarettes among Youth

(Cooper M, Harrell MB, Pérez A, Delk J, Perry CL; Tobacco Regulatory Science; 2016)

Social Norms, Perceptions and Dual/Poly Tobacco Use among Texas Youth

(Cooper M, Creamer MR, Ly C, Crook B, Harrell MB, Perry CL; Am J Health Behav; 2016)

E-Cigarette Marketing Exposure Is Associated With E-Cigarette Use Among US Youth

(Mantey DS, Cooper MR, Clendennen SL, Pasch KE, Perry CL; Journal of Adolescent Health; 2016)

Developing mobile phone text messages for tobacco risk communication among college students: a mixed methods study

(Prokhorov AV, Machado TC, Calabro KS, Vandewater EA, Vidrine DJ, Pasch KE, Marani SK, Buchberg M, Wagh A, Russell SC, Czneriak KW, Botello GC, Dobbins MH, Khalil GE, Perry CL; BMC Public Health; 2017)

College Students' Perceptions of Risk and Addictiveness of E-Cigarettes and Cigarettes

(Cooper M, Loukas A, Harrell MB, Perry CL; J Am Coll Health; 2016)

Defining Tobacco Regulatory Science competencies

(Wipfli HL, Berman M, Hanson K, Kelder S, Solis A, Villanti AC, Ribeiro CMP, Meissner HI, Anderson R.; Nicotine Tob Res.; 2016)

College students' polytobacco use, cigarette cessation, and dependence

(Loukas A, Chow S, Pasch KE, Li X, Hinds JT, Marti CN, Harrell MB, Creamer MR, Perry CL; Am J Health Behav.; 2016)

E-cigarette Dual Users, Exclusive Users and Perceptions of Tobacco Products

(Cooper M, Case KR, Loukas A, Creamer MR, Perry CL; American Journal of Health Behavior; 2016)

Is adolescent poly-tobacco use associated with alcohol and other drug use?

(Creamer MR, Portillo GV, Clendennen SL, Perry CL; American Journal of Health Behavior; 2016)

Trends in multiple tobacco product use, among high school students

(Creamer MR, Perry CL, Harrell MB, Diamond PM; Tob Regul Sci.; 2015)

Anxiety, depression and smoking status among adults of Mexican heritage on the Texas-Mexico Border

(Wilkinson AV, Vatcheva KP, Pérez A, Reininger BM, McCormick JB, Fisher-Hoch, SP; Hisp J Behav Sci.; 2014)

Photo of Meagan Bluestein

Meagan Bluestein, MPH

Photo of Melissa Blythe Harrell

Melissa Blythe Harrell, PhD

Photo of Steven Kelder

Steven Kelder, PhD, MPH

Photo of Pablo Martinez

Pablo Martinez

TCORS YaYA – Database developer/Programmer Photo of Adriana Pérez

Adriana Pérez, PhD

Photo of Anna Wilkinson

Anna Wilkinson, PhD

Co-Investigator, Texas SNAP-Ed Evaluation

The Appeal of E-Cigarette Flavors

New data from the Texas TCORS project suggests that flavorings in e-cigarettes, especially sweet ones (e.g., dessert, candy flavors) could be increasing e-cigarette use among youth and young adults. Thumbnail image 3 for UTHealth study finds e-cigarette marketing linked to teen e-cigarette use

UTHealth study finds e-cigarette marketing linked to teen e-cigarette use

Exposure to e-cigarette marketing messages is significantly associated with e-cigarette use among middle school and high school students, according to researchers at UTHealth.

Risky Business: Kids, E-cigs, Vaping, and New Tobacco Products

Do you know what new tobacco products adolescents are using? Are they harmful? What about the marketing of these products? Is e-cigarrette use amongst teens risky business?