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Last week, researchers at Penn received $18 million of federal grant money to be used in an ongoing tobacco study.

Penn’s Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science will receive the grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration  and National Institutes of Health to continue research on tobacco marketing and perception. 

Penn Medicine News reported Penn TCORS will use this money to study psychological and behavioral responses to smoking ads, monitor the spread of tobacco company misinformation, and understand the effects of packaging and descriptors on public perception. 

Penn’s grant comes as part of a second round of funding in an ongoing interagency partnership between the FDA and NIH. 

FDA-NIH support for tobacco research at Penn began in 2013, when Penn TCORS was founded with a $20 million grant from the two agencies. Penn started the process towards a tobacco-free campus in 2014, when the University convened a campus-wide Tobacco Committee to investigate and ultimately change the school’s policy to ban smoking. 

Since then, the University has worked to "increase awareness of smoking cessation support services and reduce visual cues around campus that encouraged or permitted tobacco usage," according to a policy update issued in 2017. 

A 2013 Daily Pennsylvanian article indicatesPenn TCORS has conducted several studies including a comprehensive examination of tobacco media coverage and its effect on young adults’ product judgment.

Previously, FDA-NIH funding in a 2013-2018 grant was awarded to 14 TCORS programs, a number which has since narrowed. This September, grants were awarded to Penn and eight other TCORS programs, including those at Yale University, University of Vermont, and University of Michigan.

Andrew Strasser, director of the Biobehavioral Smoking Laboratory at Penn’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction, told Penn Medicine News that the researchers will be taking a “comprehensive approach to better understand the effects of tobacco advertising and packaging — from psychological responses to use patterns and exposure." 

Specifically, Penn Medicine News reported, researchers at Penn TCORS will be putting this money towards studies of smoking behaviors, assessments of the effects of tobacco product advertising, and the examination of the impact of toxin and nicotine exposure.

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