THURSDAY, Oct. 6, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- A large, national study on how new government regulations affect smoking and other tobacco use and people's understanding about the risks was announced Thursday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Researchers will follow more than 40,000 people, aged 12 and older, who use cigarettes and other tobacco products or are at risk.
The study goals include: determining what makes people susceptible to smoking and tobacco use; evaluating tobacco use patterns and resulting health problems; analyzing patterns of quitting and relapse; and evaluating how changes in regulations affect people's perceptions of risk and other attitudes.
The researchers will also examine differences in tobacco-related attitudes, behaviors and health outcomes in men and women and people in different ethnic/racial and age groups.
The study is the first large-scale FDA/NIH collaboration on tobacco regulation research since the Tobacco Control Act was passed in 2009. The initiative will be coordinated by scientific experts at the NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products.
The findings will help the FDA decide how best to use the new regulatory powers it was given under the Tobacco Control Act, according to officials.
"The launch of this study signals a major milestone in addressing one of the most significant public health burdens of the 21st century," FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said in a NIDA news release. "The results will strengthen FDA's ability to fulfill our mission to make tobacco-related death and disease part of America's past and will further guide us in targeting the most effective actions to decrease the huge toll of tobacco use on our nation's health."
There's been a large decline in smoking rates in the United States since their peak in the late 1960s, but nearly 70 million Americans aged 12 and older still used tobacco products in 2010, according to the news release.
Tobacco is the leading cause of disease, disability and death in the United States and cigarette smoking causes more than 443,000 premature deaths in the country each year. That death toll is higher than the number of deaths caused by alcohol, illegal drugs, murder, suicide, car crashes and AIDS combined.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about tobacco use.