Ohio State researchers to study health effects of e-cigarettes and nicotine on youth

Researchers at The Ohio State University will study the health effects of e-cigarettes and nicotine on youth and help develop vaping cessation programs after receiving a $5.5 million grant from the American Heart Association. On Tuesday, the American Heart Association announced nearly $17 million in grants as part of its ENACT: End Nicotine Addiction in Children and Teens research initiative.

This study engages experts across our medical center and health sciences colleges collaborating together. It's vital to better understand what gets our youth addicted, the long term effects on the lungs and heart and which cessation efforts are most effective."

Dr. Hal Paz, executive vice president and chancellor for Health Affairs at The Ohio State University and CEO of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Ohio State's work will be led by Peter J. Mohler, PhD, vice dean of research at The Ohio State College of Medicine and director of the Dorothy M. Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute, and researchers from the Center for Tobacco Research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC--James), including Theodore Wagener, PhD, Loren Wold, PhD, Liz Klein, PhD, MPH, and Megan Roberts, PhD. They'll join colleagues with the colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health and Engineering to work together on the two-year project called VERIFY: Vaping's End through Research and Innovation For Youth. The goal is to provide answers in three areas: the short- and long-term effects of e-cigarettes, including their impact on the brain, lungs and heart; the most effective regulations to reduce the appeal and addictiveness of e-cigarettes for youth; and the best methods to help youth kick their addiction to e-cigarettes.

"We're pleased to receive this grant that will allow us to continue our work examining the health impacts of e-cigarettes and vaping. E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, and there needs to be more research on youth e-cigarette use and addiction and ways to help users quit," Mohler said.

The VERIFY project consists of investigations that involve pre-clinical, clinical and surveillance-based studies. The aims of the original project are fourfold:

  • Aim 1: Pre-clinical testing of the health effects of e-cigarettes. Researchers will test the health effects of e-cigarette exposure, specifically cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic and neuronal phenotypes in response to changes in nicotine form, concentration and flavors. The principal investigator is Wold, assistant dean for Biological Health Research in the College of Nursing and a professor and vice chair in the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology.
  • Aim 2: Surveillance-based testing of the behavioral and health effects of e-cigarettes. Experts will study the relationship between nicotine form, concentration and flavors on e-cigarette use, addiction, neurocognitive outcomes and pulmonary health. Principal investigators are Roberts, assistant professor at Ohio State University's College of Public Health and a researcher with the Center for Tobacco Research; and Alayna Tackett, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
  • Aim 3: Development of an e-cigarette product standard to reduce its addiction potential. Researchers will examine the influence of nicotine form, concentration and flavor for youth puffing behavior, nicotine delivery, abuse liability, toxicant exposure and acute cardiovascular and pulmonary effects. The principal investigators are Wagener, director of the Center for Tobacco Research, co-leader of the Cancer Control Program at the OSUCCC - James and associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Ohio State's College of Medicine, and Marielle Brinkman, senior research scientist in Ohio State's College of Public Health and researcher with the Center for Tobacco Research.
  • Aim 4: Development of an effective and scalable vaping cessation intervention. Experts will develop and test a multi-point, scalable vaping cessation program that includes quit line-delivered phone counseling, text-based cessation, nicotine replacement therapy and online cessation support. The principal investigator is Klein, associate professor in Ohio State's College of Public Health and a researcher with the Center for Tobacco Research.

"Our hope is that these projects greatly advance our knowledge about youth vaping - in particular what impact it has on young people's bodies and what the most effective approaches might be to help e-cigarette users, including young people, quit," Klein said.

Researchers at Boston University and Yale University also received awards. The American Heart Association said the grants are among the highest individual grants awarded in its history.

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