BETHESDA, MdThe National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National
Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) will jointly fund a 5-year, $72
million project to create a series of Transdisciplinary Tobacco
Research Centers to study tobacco use initiation, addiction, and
cessation, and tobacco-related cancers. The NCI, in a separate
initiative, will spend $72 million over 4 years for research to
improve state and community tobacco-control efforts.
The two programs will solicit research proposals from investigators
nationwide, and the NCI says they will complement its existing
tobacco research. NCI also said it will seek the advice of state and
community tobacco-control experts in developing and implementing the programs.
The two new efforts are among nine high-priority areas that the
NCI-established Tobacco Research Implementation Group (TRIG)
identified as unique, overarching research opportunities
that the Institute should pursue over the next 5 to 7 years. NCI
is moving quickly to follow these recommendations, NCI
director Richard D. Klausner, MD, said.
The NCI-NIDA program stems from a TRIG recommendation that NCI
collaborate with public and private organizationsincluding
several other NIH units, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundationin pursuing
the priority objectives. The joint effort will start late in fiscal
year 1999, which ends September 30.
NCI will provide $50 million, at $10 million a year, and NIDA will
contribute $20 million in equal yearly payments of $4 million.
A major thrust of the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Research Centers is
to focus the efforts of scientists with diverse
expertiseincluding molecular biology, genetics, neuroscience,
epidemiology, imaging, behavioral science, economics, and
marketingin collaborative efforts to address key causation,
addiction, and treatment issues.
These centers have the potential to dramatically alter the way
tobacco research is conducted on a national level and to speed the
pace of discovery, leading to a major public health benefit by
reducing tobacco use, Dr. Klausner said.
Over 4 years, beginning early in fiscal year 2000, NCI will also
provide $18 million annually to study the effectiveness of state and
local tobacco control efforts, with a strong focus on their use of
mass media presentations and on policies aimed at preventing people
from starting tobacco use and helping users quit.
Among the interventions to be studied are increased tobacco excise
taxes, advertising restrictions, clean indoor-air policies, and
restrictions on tobacco sales to minors. Researchers will also
examine such issues as the impact of large media campaigns and how
they influence the smoking behavior of specific groups such as heavy
smokers and teenagers.
An Extraordinary Opportunity
Many states and localities are expected to increase their
tobacco-control efforts in the next few years, often using money from
the recent settlements with tobacco companies. NCI said its new
initiative is meant to help boost the effectiveness of these efforts.
This is an extraordinary opportunity and will contribute
information that will improve the major tobacco-control programs in
states and communities across the country, Dr. Klausner said.
Other recommendations included in the TRIG report, titled
Priorities for Tobacco Research Beyond the Year 2000,
urge the NCI to conduct:
Basic biobehavioral research to understand sociocultural,
psychological, physiological, and genetic factors that influence the
initiation of tobacco use, progression to nicotine addiction, and
smoking cessation among children, adolescents, and adults.
Research to find the best ways to tailor tobacco cessation
interventions to specific sociocultural, psychological,
physiological, and genetic subgroups.
Research to improve community and state tobacco control programs, to
increase their effectiveness for populations at disproportionate
risk, and to identify mechanisms for the optimal dissemination of
Research to understand the impact of tobacco policies, including
taxation and pricing, clean indoor-air policies, marketing
restrictions, youth access restrictions, and tobacco product and
nicotine replacement regulation.
Basic biologic research to identify and validate biomarkers of
tobacco exposure and tobacco-induced cellular events as they relate
to the different stages of carcinogenesis.
Research to understand genetic and environmental interactions in the
susceptibility to tobacco-related cancers in order to identify
subgroups at risk.
Research on expanded surveillance systems to monitor tobacco use
behaviors, the implementation and fidelity of tobacco-related
interventions, and other factors that influence tobacco use.