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Tobacco Cessation and Biobehavioral Group combats smoking hazards

February 14, 2017

It’s no secret the state of Indiana has plenty of health issues, but units like the Tobacco Cessation and Biobehavioral Group are making great strides in education about the harmful effects of tobacco on the human body. With Indiana having one of the highest smoking rates in the entire country, groups like TCBG are vital in the prevention of smoking, secondhand smoke and other smoking-related health hazards. Co-directed by L. Jack Windsor and Richard L. Gregory, the group is dedicated to research, education and cessation to decrease the number of people suffering from the effects of smoking.

The research component combines aspects of biological and behavioral research along with civic engagement, teaching and learning. The group also focuses on educating Indiana residents, as well as health care providers, in order to reduce the number of tobacco-related illnesses. Those educated researchers and advocates who graduate from the program will enter various medical fields with knowledge of tobacco and its oral and systemic effects, therefore giving them the ability to train other health professionals. The group utilizes only the most effective plans to assist smokers in quitting and offers cessation counseling.

As a part of the IU School of Dentistry, TCBG enlists dentistry students, researchers and even high school students to analyze potential developments in the field of tobacco use. Both Windsor and Gregory have detailed the way in which research has recently begun to focus on e-cigarettes and the unknown hazards that come along with that new technology. For example, Windsor recently constructed a unique apparatus that traps the chemicals that are released in the vapors from e-cigarettes to study them further. 

Although Indiana University does not allow e-cigarettes, both Windsor and Gregory commented on the difficulty in regulating such items because of the unique placement of the IUPUI campus near multiple public streets.

Despite the abundant research of the harmful effects of smoking, the group works with over 50 smokers annually. Windsor said he was shocked by the number of health care professionals who smoke "even with their level of education" regarding tobacco. Additionally, health care professionals are not up to date on the effects of e-cigarettes, he said.

Gregory explained that although this information is well-known, it's not necessarily believed. Because of this, the group's research is focused on other diseases caused by smoking rather than solely lung or oral disease. Specifically, the co-directors mentioned how often patients fail to realize smoking is the cause of their dental issues. Gregory said, “Because smoking impacts so many disease processes, my laboratory is investigating the effects of tobacco and tobacco components on the gene and protein regulation of oral bacteria responsible for binding to teeth and human endothelial cells in dental caries and atherosclerosis, respectively.”

Using hard work and dedicated research, the Tobacco Cessation and Biobehavioral Group is making great strides toward guaranteeing a healthier Indiana and a smoke-free environment. 

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