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FDA and NIH Announce Study on Effect of Tobacco Regulations on Smokers

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced they will study the effect of new tobacco regulations on the health and behavior of smokers and potential smokers.

The study will include 40,000 people ages 12 and up, Reuters reports. It will include both users of tobacco products and those at risk for tobacco use, according to an FDA news release. The researchers will investigate what makes people susceptible to tobacco use, their use of tobacco and resulting health problems, and tobacco cessation and relapse. The study will also look into whether and how changes in tobacco regulations have influenced people’s perceptions of the risk of using tobacco products.

The FDA is requiring tobacco companies to put graphic warning labels on cigarette packages. The labels are designed to warn consumers about the risks of smoking. Five tobacco companies are suing the federal government over the labels, which are scheduled to be on all packages by the fall of 2012. The manufacturers claim the labels violate First Amendment protections for commercial speech.

The new cigarette labels carry graphic images of the consequences of smoking, including diseased lungs and rotting teeth. They are a result of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave the FDA authority to regulate the content, marketing and sale of tobacco products.

The new study is designed to help the FDA assess the impact of the Tobacco Control Act, and to guide the agency in making decisions about regulating tobacco marketing, product standards and communicating health risks.

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