Informing consumers about the relative health risks of different nicotine delivery products

The Foundation's Substance Abuse Policy Research Program was designed to provide support for investigators to conduct policy research on a variety of subjects directed at helping the country reduce the harm caused by substance abuse.Under this program, policy research projects will be funded in four areas: tobacco; alcohol; illegal drugs; and combinations of tobacco, alcohol, and/or illegal drugs. There does not currently exist a reliable means for consumers to rate accurately the relative health risks associated with various nicotine delivery devices. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) annually tests all varieties of cigarettes sold in the United States for concentrations of tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide; however, the scientific community generally acknowledges that these methods are antiquated and offer little useful information to the smoker in terms of comparing the disease-producing potential of different brands of cigarettes. Recent research indicates that brands lower in tar may actually be more dangerous than higher tar brands. What is needed is a rating system that will allow consumers to compare accurately the relative health risks of all nicotine delivery systems on the market, ranging from cigarettes to nicotine gum. The purpose of this project is to begin work on developing such a rating system. This goal will be achieved by conducting a comprehensive study of the available options for testing and rating the safety and toxicity of different nicotine delivery products and convening an expert panel to debate critically the benefits and gaps of different testing protocols. The result of this effort will be a report that outlines a new testing protocol to replace the outdated FTC cigarette testing system in use today. Another goal is to document consumer misperceptions about the relative health risks of different nicotine delivery systems. This goal will be accomplished by conducting focus groups with smokers and conducting a nationally representative survey of smokers to assess quantitatively beliefs about the health risks associated with different nicotine delivery products.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $349,378.00

Awarded on: 11/2/1999

Time frame: 11/1/1999 - 10/31/2003

Grant Number: 37540


Health Research Incorporated

Riverview Center
150 Broadway, Suite 560
Menands, 12204-2726


K. Michael Cummings
Project Director