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kids smoking e-cigarettes

photo of Pallav Pokhrel
Pallav Pokhrel

The effects of e-cigarette marketing on young adults’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior is the focus of a University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center (UHCC) researcher, who recently won a big grant. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) awarded a three-year, $1.4 million grant for e-cigarette research to UHCC researcher Pallav Pokhrel and his team.

“E-cigarettes are currently poorly regulated, but e-cigarette use is increasingly prevalent among youth and young adults between the ages of 18 and 25,” said Pokhrel. “Currently the public health consequences of e-cigarette use are largely unknown. This new study aims to generate knowledge that will help develop tobacco control policies and interventions that would promote the health of young adults in Hawaiʻi and across the nation.“

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is known to be addictive and toxic. “Nicotine exposure can also harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. E-cigarette aerosol can contain chemicals that are harmful to the lungs. And youth e-cigarette use is associated with the use of other tobacco products, including cigarettes,” according to the CDC.

The research will also help identify vulnerable groups of young adults who develop nicotine addiction as a result of targeted e-cigarette marketing, and will highlight how e-cigarette use spreads among this age group as a result of marketing.

“The FDA recently addressed the alarming epidemic of youth e-cigarette use by creating historic enforcement actions on e-cigarette marketing. Receiving the competitive federal grant is a recognition of the University of Hawaiʻi’s leadership on this national problem,” said Randall Holcombe, UH Cancer Center director.

Pokhrel received a three-year, $2.6 million grant in 2016, which focused on e-cigarette marketing and tobacco product use behavior. The new grant will supplement this research.

The grant was also supported by the NCI and FDA Center for Tobacco Products with funds coming from the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Financed with federal funds, anticipated project cost is estimated at $1.4 million.

—By Nana Ohkawa

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