Center based at U-M receives $20M to research tobacco use


The Center for the Assessment of Tobacco Regulations, housed at the School of Public Health, recently received $20 million to continue its research on the impact of tobacco regulations on tobacco use patterns and their health effects.

Known as CAsToR, the center is a collaboration among the University of Michigan, Georgetown University and the British Columbia Cancer Research Institute.

It is one of seven centers to receive funding from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health as part of the third cohort of Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science. The funding extends the center’s research for an additional five years.

“Tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, is responsible for 480,000 premature deaths in the U.S. The extended funding will allow us to analyze how policies are likely to influence tobacco use habits among different populations and help to determine the best interventions to reduce, and maybe eliminate, the smoking toll,” said David Mendez, professor of health management and policy in SPH.

Mendez is a principal investigator for CAsToR along with Rafael Meza, distinguished scientist at the BC Cancer Research Institute and adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia and SPH; and David Levy, professor of oncology at Georgetown’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer l Center.

They lead the multidisciplinary team focused on providing evidence-based, expert-informed modeling for the evaluation of the behavioral and public health impacts of FDA tobacco rules or other regulatory actions.

”Smoking impacts nearly every organ system of the body and causes 30% of cancer deaths in the U.S.,” Levy said. “Leveraging evidence-based approaches to reduce or prevent tobacco use remains a critical public health goal and requires large, multidisciplinary efforts.”

CAsToR has designed four projects for the Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science based on detailed analyses of current and historical tobacco use patterns in the United States, for both the general population and key subgroups. The research offers insight into the potential future impacts of regulatory action, and a comprehensive understanding of the factors motivating shifts in tobacco use across the country and the globe.

“We are thrilled to continue CAsToR’s work assessing the impact of tobacco use and regulations, as well as continuing our efforts to train a new generation of tobacco regulatory scientists and modelers,” Meza said.

“To date, our center has made important contributions to the development of U.S. tobacco regulations — such as the forthcoming cigarette menthol ban — and we look forward to continuing our work to further reduce tobacco-related morbidity and mortality.”


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