UCSF Receives $20 Million to Study New Tobacco Products

5 Projects Will Focus on Impacts of E-cigarettes and Smokeless or Heated Tobacco Products

By Elizabeth Fernandez

UC San Francisco has been awarded a five-year, $20 million grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health to study the impacts of new and emerging tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs), which heat tobacco without combustion.

Portrait of Dr. Stan Glantz.
Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.  

UCSF is one of nine institutions nationally to receive funding this year from the Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS). The UCSF research team, led by Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, also received a five-year, $20 million TCORS grant when the program started in 2013. 

The new UCSF TCORS research projects, which will also be supported by $1 million in funding from UCSF, will range from the products’ impacts on lung and cardiovascular disease, to school-age usage and the impact on health care costs in general and vulnerable populations. 

“The tobacco industry is drastically different than it was 10 years ago, when most tobacco users smoked cigarettes that were more alike than different,” said Glantz. “Today we have an explosion of new and varied products, including e-cigarettes like JUUL and HTPs, which the industry promotes as presenting ‘reduced harm’ with very little independent evidence. We will independently study the health effects of these products, how they are perceived by consumers, and their effects on health care costs, with the goal of protecting public health.”

The UCSF TCORS projects have three primary goals: to evaluate the short-term health effects of the new tobacco products and how specific product characteristics influence health effects and behavior; scientifically inform product standards and marketing regulations for the new products; and build the tobacco regulatory science research community.

“As they have in the past, tobacco companies are using new products that they claim are ‘safer’ to try to position themselves as part of the solution rather than part of the problem,” said Glantz, a member of the UCSF Cardiovascular Research Institute which is administering the grant. “The UCSF TCORS is developing the knowledge that will allow independent judgment of whether these companies have actually changed or are merely changing their spots.” 

The funding will support the following five TCORS projects at UCSF:

  • Carolyn Calfee, MD, MAS, UCSF professor of medicine, will study the impact of different e-cigarette characteristics (components and e-liquids) on acute lung injury.
  • Gideon St. Helen, PhD, UCSF assistant professor of medicine, will examine the short-term cardiovascular effects of e-cigarettes and how e-cigarettes compare with HTPs.
  • Matthew Springer, PhD, UCSF professor of medicine, will study the cardiovascular health effects of HTPs.
  • Benjamin Chaffee, DDS, MPH, PhD, UCSF assistant professor of preventive and restorative dental sciences, will examine product characteristics, use behaviors and role in nicotine exposure of smokeless tobacco in rural high schools.
  • Wendy Max, PhD, UCSF professor health economics and director of the Institute for Health & Aging in the UCSF School of Nursing, will study the impact of changing tobacco product use on health care costs among general and vulnerable populations.

Glantz, Calfee, Springer, Chaffee, and Max are members of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

For more information visit:
UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education
UCSF Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science
Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science

The projects are supported by National Institutes of Health – TCORS Grant #U54HL147127-06.   

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise. It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises three top-ranked hospitals – UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland – as well as Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, UCSF Benioff Children’s Physicians and the UCSF Faculty Practice. UCSF Health has affiliations with hospitals and health organizations throughout the Bay Area. UCSF faculty also provide all physician care at the public Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, and the SF VA Medical Center. The UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program is a major branch of the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine.