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Smoke Detectors

Researchers Awarded $19M to Study Tobacco’s Toxicity, Bacteria, Addictiveness

By David Kohn

Smoke Detectors
Smoking

The evidence is clear: Smoking is bad for you. But which cigarette brand is worst? And are newer products (such as electronic cigarettes and the snuff variant snus) any safer?

Answers are on the way. A five-year, $19 million grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health has helped launch the University of Maryland Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science to study these topics.

Led by the School of Public Health’s Pamela Clark, researchers at UMD, the University of Maryland, Baltimore, George Mason University and the nonprofit research organization Battelle will investigate the chemical and physical properties of tobacco products, and the attributes, such as menthol filters, that may contribute to consumer appeal and addictiveness. They will also study products’ bacterial makeup—tobacco contains high levels of bacteria, and researchers suspect that ingesting these microbes causes health problems.

“The tobacco industry is putting out new products all the time, and tweaking old products to make them more appealing,” says Clark. “We need to understand what’s out there so we can reduce the harm.”

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