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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health have launched a nationwide study to find out why people use tobacco.

More than 40,000 smokers and non-smokers from around the country will be recruited and studied for five years in the $118.3-million “Population Assessment on Tobacco Health Study,” reports Convenience Story News. About 7,000 youths between 12 and 18 years old will also be included.

Study participants will be interviewed every year by investigators from Westat, a company in Rockville, Maryland, that specializes in health surveys and public health research. They will look at susceptibility to tobacco use, frequency of use patterns, characteristics of smoking cessation and relapse and effects of regulatory changes on the perception of risk at other tobacco-related attitudes. According to the FDA, they will also look at differences in attitudes, behaviors and key health outcomes in racial-ethnic, gender and age subgroups.

FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, said in the article, “The launch of this study signals a major milestone in addressing one of the most significant public health burdens of the 21st century. The results will strengthen FDA’s ability to fulfill our mission to make tobacco-related disease and death part of America’s past and will further guide us in targeting the most effective actions to decrease the huge toll of tobacco use on our nation’s health.”

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