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VCU reseacher wins NCI grant for tobacco research

Studies will test claims of potential reduced-exposure cigarettes, other products

RICHMOND, Va. -- Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and head of the Clinical Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University, has been awarded a $2.2 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop a model for testing the purported benefits of potential reduced-exposure products for cigarette smokers and smokeless tobacco users.

Studies are planned to assess the effects on smokers of cigarettes and smokeless products that are marketed by tobacco companies as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes.

Several potential reduced-exposure products are available commercially now, but their claims that they reduce the harmful effects of smoking are largely untested.  Among the products are the Advance cigarette, which has been test marketed by Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. and Star Scientific, Inc., and is based on tobacco-curing technology developed by Star Scientific to reduce levels of the cancer-causing chemicals, nitrosamines. Other products include Vector Group Ltd�s OMNI potential reduced-exposure cigarette and Star Scientific�s Ariva tobacco lozenges.

Eissenberg and his colleagues have conducted National Institute of Health-supported smoking studies and studies on potential reduced exposure products for the past five years. His lab has been developing methods to assess the effects on smokers of the new products, using a data-collection system developed and marketed by Plowshare Technologies, Inc., of Baltimore, MD, (www.plowshare.com). The lab�s goal is to study pharmacological and psychological factors that can help reduce people�s desire to smoke, which has been linked to such diseases as cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic bronchitis and emphysema and is blamed for more than 400,000 annual deaths in the United States.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.