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The National Cancer Institute (NCI)

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has funded the State and Community Tobacco Control (SCTC) Research Initiative since 2011. Cooperative agreements were awarded to seven scientific research projects and one Coordinating Center. The research conducted by initiative members addresses important, understudied aspects of state and community tobacco control policy and media interventions. The initiative’s five research areas are:

  1. Community and Social Norms
  2. Mass Media Countermeasures
  3. Secondhand Smoke Policies
  4. Tax and Pricing Policies
  5. Tobacco Industry Marketing & Promotion

Members of the SCTC Research Initiative take part in strategic partnerships with state and local tobacco control programs and other public health organizations. These partnerships focus on collaborative research and dissemination and are designed to enable the rapid adoption of research findings into everyday practice.

Components of the SCTC Research Initiative

The SCTC Research Initiative consists of five key components, whose purpose is to increase collaboration among researchers and projects and to promote innovative research that will benefit state and community tobacco control efforts:

  1. Research Projects—Multiyear projects, each with multiple specific aims (see pages 3–10).
  2. Collaborative Developmental Projects—Short-term projects formed as collaborations among research projects and tobacco control partners to respond to emerging state and community research needs. These projects are also an opportunity for investigators to conduct novel pilot research (see pages 11–21).
  3. Working Groups—Ongoing collaborations between SCTC investigators and relevant stakeholders to address topic-specific gaps in research and practice (see pages 22–23).
  4. NCI—The federal agency that funds the Initiative, contributes to the scientific direction of the Initiative, evaluates the process and impact of the Initiative, and promotes research findings for implementation.
  5. Coordinating Center—The Initiative resource that fosters communication and collaboration among initiative components and outside partners, participates in working groups and Initiative evaluation efforts, and facilitates dissemination of research findings for rapid implementation by state and community tobacco control programs.

SCTC Research Project Sites

There are seven research projects at the core of the SCTC Research Initiative. Two Principal Investigators from each research project, two Principal Investigators from the Coordinating Center, NCI Project Scientists/Coordinators/Program Officials, and the NCI Tobacco Control Research Branch Chief, comprise the Steering Committee, which provides leadership for the Initiative.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Michelle Kegler
Co-Investigators: Dr. Carla Berg, Dr. Cam Escoffery, Dr. Rebecca Williams, Dr. Kurt Ribisl, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Dr. Patricia Dolan Mullen, Dr. Maria Fernandez, University of Texas; Dr. Matthew Kreuter, Washington University in St. Louis
Study: Brief Interventions to Create Smoke-Free Home Policies in Low-Income Households
This research team is developing a brief intervention to encourage smoke-free home policies among low-income individuals who are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke in the home. The intervention reaches this population by using the existing national 211 telephone information and referral service. The 211 service links callers to community-based health and social services, similar to 911 for emergencies or 411 for directory assistance.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Scott Leischow
Co-Investigator: Dr. Patricia Nez Henderson, Black Hills Center for American Indian Health
Study: Networks Among Tribal Organizations for Clean Air Policies
This research project is examining efforts to eliminate secondhand smoke in workplaces and indoor public places in the Navajo Nation. In partnership with “Team Navajo,” a tribal-led coalition, the research team is using social network research methods to understand how connections among individuals and groups shape policy outcomes and what should be done to promote effective policies. A goal of this project is to assess factors that impact Navajo Nation decision-making regarding adoption and implementation of policies that decrease exposure to commercial (non-ceremonial) tobacco smoke, and to make data available to assist in that decision-making. Findings may help other states and communities establish effective policies.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Shu-Hong Zhu
Co-Investigators: Dr. Anthony Gamst and Dr. Sharon Cummins, University of California San Diego
Study: Nonsmokers and Tobacco Control Norms: Population Surveys and Intervention Studies
This research team is developing and evaluating an intervention targeted to nonsmokers. The intervention helps nonsmokers assist smokers attempting to quit. Results from this study will suggest strategies for existing campaigns.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Pamela Ling
Co-Investigator: Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, University of California San Francisco
Study: Countering Young Adult Tobacco Marketing in Bars
This research project is developing an intervention strategy to counter tobacco marketing to young adults at “adult only” venues such as bars, nightclubs, and casinos. Interventions are implemented at these venues to reinforce nonsmoking messages and to impede the transition from experimentation to established smoking. The team is working to evaluate this novel intervention and help tobacco control practitioners tailor it for their communities.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Frank Chaloupka
Co-Investigator: Dr. Jamie Chriqui, University of Illinois at Chicago
Study: Monitoring and Assessing the Impact of Tax and Price Policies on U.S. Tobacco Use
These researchers are seeking to improve understanding of the impact of tobacco tax and price policies on tobacco use and related behaviors. They are assessing the processes through which high cigarette prices and taxes lead to decreased tobacco use. High cigarette prices lead some smokers to quit, keep former users from relapsing, prevent youth from taking up tobacco use, and reduce consumption among those who continue to use. They also examine how higher cigarette prices lead to unanticipated user behavior that can blunt intended effects, such as users switching to cheaper brands or alternative products (e.g., electronic cigarettes), reducing spending on other goods and services to maintain tobacco use, and changing product purchasing behavior (e.g., alternative vendors).
Project Website:

Principal Investigator: Dr. Sherry Emery
Co-Investigators: Dr. Joseph Capella, University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Kurt Ribisl, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Study: Tobacco Control in a Rapidly Changing Media Environment
These investigators are assessing efficient and effective ways to promote tobacco control and combat pro-tobacco information using multiple media platforms. They are examining the amount and variety of tobacco-related information both smokers and nonsmokers encounter, seek out, and exchange across media platforms. Characteristics of effective tobacco control media campaigns for new media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr are identified by analyzing the associations among information features and attitudes, beliefs, and smoking behavior of information-seekers.
Project Website:

Principal Investigators: Dr. Kurt Ribisl, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Dr. Doug Luke, Washington University in St. Louis; Dr. Lisa Henriksen, Stanford Prevention Research Center
Study: Maximizing State and Local Policies to Restrict Tobacco Marketing at Point of Sale
This research team is conducting extensive surveillance of the retail tobacco environment. They evaluate the impact of state and community policies addressing both point-of-sale marketing and promotions and the density of tobacco outlets. Using a variety of methods, the team will assess both how well states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are implementing Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act regulations and how the tobacco companies are responding with new marketing and promotional approaches. The team will also conduct case studies in states and communities implementing innovative point-of-sale policies to inform future efforts.
Project Website:

Coordinating Center

Principal Investigator: Dr. Matthew Farrelly
Co-Investigators: Dr. Carol Schmitt, Dr. Todd Rogers
The Coordinating Center is responsible for fostering productive collaboration and communication among the research projects, NCI, and the broader public health community. The Coordinating Center provides infrastructure for the Steering Committee, and scientific resources to the Initiative as requested. The Coordinating Center works with NCI and the Steering Committee to facilitate cross-site research opportunities, evaluation of the initiative, and dissemination of research findings to states and communities.