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Established in 2014, the Behavioral Health Research Lab (BHRL) focuses on projects related to how tobacco use is associated with biological and behavioral measures such as nicotine/toxicant exposure, subjective effects, abuse liability, and overall consumption patterns, as well as examining broader population-level use patterns and associated predictors including other substance use.
A primary focus has been investigating the influence of alternative tobacco products such as waterpipes/hookah, little cigars/cigarillos, and electronic cigarettes on individual and population health. All of these products have been promoted either formally by manufacturers or informally by users as a “safer” or “healthier” alternative to cigarettes. Consequently, increases in awareness and use of these products have been observed despite the lack of clear scientific evidence to support such claims. Certain alternative products such as little cigars/cigarillos also have been used disproportionately by vulnerable groups such as African Americans and those with lower socioeconomic status but are lacking detailed empirical study regarding predisposing factors and health implications among these groups.
To address these research questions, the BHRL uses multiple methods including those from the clinical laboratory, content analysis, survey-based approaches, behavioral economic models, and ecological momentary assessment. The BHRL partners with researchers in Departments of Psychology, Internal Medicine, Health Behavior and Policy, as well as the Massey Cancer Center and Center for the Study of Tobacco Products.
Overall, research performed in the BHRL is used to inform public health efforts and tobacco-related policies surrounding the use and availability of tobacco products.