With focus on lung health, global researchers resolve to improve ‘quit smoking’ tools

New health, science, and technology grants will allow 100+ researchers to explore smoking cessation and harm-reduction innovation


New Delhi: More than 30 years after World No Tobacco Day was launched to raise awareness of the devastating health effects of tobacco use, there are still more than a billion smokers in the world. Researchers are mobilizing globally to improve cessation and harm-reduction tools to help raise quitting success rates that are, at most, between 12% and 23%.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and their global partners mark every May 31 as World No Tobacco Day. Smokers are urged to abstain from smoking for 24 hours. The focus of this year’s observance is lung health because tobacco smoking remains the leading cause of deadly lung and respiratory diseases. According to aGlobal Burden of Disease study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, of the more than 8 million deaths attributed to tobacco use in 2017, 2.88 million of those deaths were from chronic respiratory diseases; tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer; and tuberculosis.

“As millions of people continue to die from tobacco-related diseases, it’s clear that an annual World No Tobacco observance day is not enough,” said Dr Derek Yach, President of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. “We need to expand the body of scientific knowledge and technology around smoking cessation and harm reduction to drive toward new solutions that will help eliminate all tobacco product use and save lives.”

The Foundation provides grants that will allow more than 100 researchers to advance knowledge expansion in multiple smoking cessation and harm-reduction areas, including biomarker discovery, outcomes of quitting/switching on the microbiome, and innovative clinical trial designs of cessation therapies. With this support, several leading health research organizations and universities will collaborate on tobacco control work with an emphasis on solutions applicable to low- and middle-income countries, where most of the world’s smokers live.

Current research projects have the following objectives:

  • Detecting and quantifying smoking and vaping (Behavioral Diagnostics, The University of Iowa and Des Moines University)

  • Investigating cessation methods and harm reduction (Rose Research Center)

  • Identifying biomarkers to distinguish use of nicotine products (ABF-Lab)

  • Using next-generation sequencing to identify early biomarkers of potential harm in smokers (Avestagenome)

The research projects are aligned with the Foundation’s strategic plan for its health, science, and technology initiatives, which complement ongoing tobacco control efforts by the WHO. The Foundation’s grants are reviewed by an independent board and are solicited directly or via requests for proposals (RFPs). All research will be published regardless of results. To learn more about the Foundation’s grants and initiatives, please take a look at the 2018 Annual Report.