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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

New UC Davis research center focuses on saving lives from tobacco use

With $3.7 million in funding, the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is set to launch the Tobacco Cessation Policy Research Center 


By KAYA DO-KHANH — campus@theaggie.org


The UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is based in Sacramento, recently announced that it is set to launch the Tobacco Cessation Policy Research Center (TCPRC) within the next few months, which is the first program of its kind. The research center brings together academic researchers and community and advocacy groups to work toward saving lives from tobacco use. 

“The long-term goal for the center’s projects and research are to support efforts to expand into subsequent studies or generate new policy efforts,” Dr. Elisa Tong, director of TCPRC and internist at UC Davis Health, said in an email. “Ultimately, we want to improve population-based cessation outcomes that will help fulfill California’s aspirations of an ‘endgame’ to end the commercial tobacco epidemic and help save lives.”

The center is receiving $3.7 million in funding from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program, a research agency directed by the UC Office of the President, according to a press release from UC Davis Health. The funding will go towards carrying out research and projects over the course of four years. 

“This new center has the potential to significantly reduce tobacco-related harm in our state,” Director of UC Center Sacramento Richard L. Kravitz said in the press release. “As the University of California’s main hub for policy-related knowledge sharing in the state capital, we are proud to participate in advancing the training and dissemination aims of this grant.” 

The center will carry out four rapid response policy projects over the first two years at the center, Dr. Tong said. The key areas that the policy projects will cover include health care access, health care delivery, health care management and health care plan reform. 

Dr. Tong said that she is especially eager to start on the project related to healthcare and community engagement on the new state law that bans the retail sale of flavored tobacco. 

“Flavors in vapes/e-cigarettes have contributed to what the Surgeon General has called an epidemic; we now have new diseases like E-cigarette Vaping Associated Lung Injury which was the 2019 epidemic making young people really sick and even die and it’s complicated with rising cannabis use too,” Dr. Tong said via email. “We need to educate and activate our healthcare providers and systems on these new challenges to support people to quit these highly addictive products.”

In 2014, there was a UC system-wide Smoke and Tobacco Free Policy established which includes all types of tobacco use such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vapes and more. Keavagh Clift, who oversees the Smoke and Tobacco Free initiative on campus, discussed a number of tobacco cessation resources for students on campus. One of the resources that she said students may find interesting is the Breathe Free Tracker Tool, which is an online tool that students can fill out to help track tobacco and vape usage and related litter on campus to support a cleaner UC Davis. Other resources include the Intervention Services Coordinator at Student Health for one-on-one counseling and access to free nicotine replacement therapy for one month. There is also an online class called Strategies to Quit Tobacco, which is an interactive workshop which addresses strategies to quit tobacco that is offered by UC Davis Health Management and Education.

Dr. Tong said that the TCPRC is launching in the next few months as some of the project teams are currently conducting planning meetings, and they want to develop the pipeline of learners and researchers. Other future plans for TCPRC include hopes of launching a learning series, a call for pilot grants and a Graduate Opportunities for Leadership Development (GOLD) fellowship with UC Center Sacramento sometime early next year. In fall 2024, she said that they hope to hold an Annual Summit with UC Center Sacramento to share their research findings with community and policy stakeholders.

Written by: Kaya Do-Khanh — campus@theaggie.org