El Hellani, Brinkman advocate for watchdog tobacco surveillance

In The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers call for maximizing public health gains 

a hand holds a cigarette over an ash tray

A new perspective piece from researchers at the College of Public Health and Ohio State’s Center for Tobacco Research calls on researchers and policymakers to anticipate how the tobacco industry may use loopholes to skirt new rules being considered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce harm caused by cigarette smoking.

The paper, which appears in the New England Journal of Medicine, was coauthored by CPH Assistant Professor Ahmad El Hellani and Research Professor Marielle Brinkman in collaboration with Theodore Wagener, director of the Center for Tobacco Research and co-leader of the Cancer Control Program at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

The tobacco industry has manipulated the design and composition of cigarettes for decades, the authors say, by increasing nicotine content, incorporating chemical additives, and reengineering filters to deliver nicotine at levels that encourage and sustain addiction among consumers. The FDA is considering limiting nicotine levels in cigarettes, which could substantially reduce rates of disease and premature deaths. The authors warn the industry might chemically and physically modify cigarettes in ways that would void the public health benefit of a future FDA nicotine standard for cigarettes.

“Implementing a nicotine product standard for cigarettes has the potential to support the tobacco ‘endgame’ by helping to curb cigarette smoking, which has been the leading cause of preventable death in the United States for decades,” the authors write. “To ensure that its potential is realized, we believe researchers and health officials should anticipate, examine, and prevent the use of possible tactics by the tobacco industry that would threaten the public health benefits of such a standard.”

Read more in The New England Journal of Medicine. 


About The Ohio State University College of Public Health

The Ohio State University College of Public Health is a leader in educating students, creating new knowledge through research, and improving the livelihoods and well-being of people in Ohio and beyond. The College's divisions include biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health behavior and health promotion, and health services management and policy. It is ranked 29th among all colleges and programs of public health in the nation, and first in Ohio, by U.S. News and World Report. Its specialty programs are also considered among the best in the country. The MHA program is ranked 8th, the biostatistics specialty is ranked 22nd, the epidemiology specialty is ranked 25th and the health policy and management specialty is ranked 17th.