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Impact of Sugars on Tobacco Product Toxicity and Abuse Liability

Principal Investigator: Irina Stepanov and Dorothy Hatsukami

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health - Grant

ID number: 1R01DA051005-01

Award Date: 5/15/2020

Institution: University of Minnesota


Sugars are present naturally in some tobacco types and are also added to cigarette tobacco filler. Data suggest that sugars in tobacco filler may contribute to the harmful properties of cigarettes by enhancing smoke palatability and appeal and, as precursors to aldehydes and furans in smoke, by increasing smoke toxicity and carcinogenicity and potentially addictiveness. The goal of this study is to provide additional quantitative data on the relationship between tobacco sugar content and relevant toxicant yields in U.S. commercial cigarettes, and associated user exposures, behaviors, and cigarette appeal. Study aims are: (1) to characterize the impact of sugars in the filler of U.S. cigarettes on the chemical profile of cigarette smoke; (2) to investigate the impact of sugar content in cigarette tobacco on toxicant and carcinogen intake in U.S. smokers; and (3) to investigate the impact of sugar content in cigarette tobacco on cigarette abuse liability and appeal. To address Aim 1, researchers will add stable isotope-labeled sugars to a commercial cigarette that is low in sugars and will analyze the dose-dependent formation of corresponding pyrolysis products in the smoke of this cigarette; they will also analyze the impact of sugar content on the levels of nicotine and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) in the smoke. To address Aim 2, researchers will analyze sugars in U.S. commercial cigarettes and use Population Assessment of Tobacco and Heath (PATH) Study biomarker data to investigate the impact of sugar content in cigarette tobacco on toxicant and carcinogen intake in U.S. smokers. To address Aim 3, researchers will investigate the impact of sugar content on cigarette abuse liability and appeal by conducting a laboratory study in which 30 smokers (aged 18 and older) will assess study cigarettes with different sugar levels. Findings may inform future regulatory measures related to sugar levels in tobacco products. 

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