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Click  here to watch a short video of Center Director Stephen T. Higgins, Ph.D., discussing the work of UVM TCORS. 

Recent Publications

Higgins, ST, Heil, SH, Sigmon SC, Tidey JW, Gaalema DE, Hughes, JR, et al. Addiction potential of reduced nicotine content cigarettes in populations with Psychiatric disorders and other vulnerabilities to tobacco addiction. JAMA Psychiatry. 2017

Collins LK, Villanti AC, Pearson JL, Glasser AM, Johnson AL, et al. Frequency of Youth E-Cigarette, Tobacco, and poly-use in the United States, 2015: update to Villanti et al. Nicotine Tob Res. 2017.

Doogan NJ, Roberts ME, Wewers ME, Stanton CA, Keith DR, Gaalema DE, Kurti AN, et al. A growing geographic disparity: rural and urban cigarette smoking trends in the United States. Prev Med. 2017.

Gaalema DE, Savage PD, Rengo JL, Cutler AY, Elliott RJ, Priest JS, Higgins ST, Ades PA. Patient characteristics predictive of cardiac rehabilitation adherence. J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2017.

Higgins ST, Heil SH, Sigmon SC, Tidey JW, Gaalema DE, Stitzer ML, et al. Response to varying the nicotine content of cigarettes in vulnerable populations: an initial experimental examination of acute effects. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2017.

Higgins ST, Reed DD, Redner R, Skelly JM, Zvorsky IA, Kurti AN. Simulating demand for cigarettes among pregnant women: a low-risk method for studying vulnerable populations. J Exp Anal Behav. 2017.

Hitchman SC, Pearson JL, Villanti AC. The need for more nuance in headline adult cigarette smoking prevalence estimates. Addiction. 2017.

Miller ME, Tidey JW, Rohsenow DJ, Higgins ST. Electronic cigarette expectancies in smokers with psychological distress. Tob Regul Sci. 2017.

Phillips JK, King SE, Bernstein IM, Skelly JM, Higgins ST. Associations of maternal obesity and smoking status with perinatal outcomes. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2017.

Tidey JW, Pacek LR, Koopmeiners JS, Vandrey R, Nardone N, Drobes DJ, et al. Effects of 6-week use of reduced-nicotine content cigarettes in smokers with and without elevated depressive symptoms. Nicotine Tob Res. 2017.

Cassidy RN, Tidey JW, Colby SM, Long V, Higgins ST. Initial development of an e-cigarette purchase task: a mixed methods study. Tob Regul Sci. 2017.


The UVM Tobacco Center on Regulatory Science (TCORS) is one of fourteen such centers in the U.S. that are supported through a cooperative agreement of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act has given the federal government (i.e., FDA) the authority to bring science-based regulation to the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of tobacco products. UVM and the other TCORS centers will provide scientific expertise relevant to the FDA’s regulatory mission. 

UVM's Center addresses one of the crosscutting and two of the specific research priorities of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products in carrying out its charge of regulating tobacco products. We approach these priorities using the concepts, principles, and methods of behavioral economics and behavioral pharmacology. The center is located at the University of Vermont but works closely with collaborators and consultants from Brown University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Minnesota, and University of Pittsburgh. 

Our crosscutting priority is researching tobacco products in vulnerable populations, including women of childbearing age/pregnant women, individuals with comorbid other substance use disorders, and individuals with comorbid serious mental illness. Each of these populations is at increased risk for tobacco use and dependence or tobacco-related adverse health outcomes. Yet despite these serious vulnerabilities, these populations are typically excluded from tobacco regulatory studies. For the FDA to effectively execute its tobacco regulatory responsibilities, having sound scientific evidence on how new tobacco products impact vulnerable populations is critically important. Our goal is to assist in providing the FDA with that evidence. 

Regarding specific priorities, the Center investigates reducing the addiction potential of cigarettes and other tobacco products by reducing their nicotine content and examines the impact of new products on biomarkers of exposure and health outcomes in vulnerable populations. Regulating the nicotine content of cigarettes and other products is an important responsibility of the FDA that has tremendous potential to reduce smoking prevalence and improve U.S. public health.

Primary Aims


We provide an Administrative Core that provides the leadership, administrative and intellectual infrastructure, and organizational oversight necessary to develop and sustain a multidisciplinary center of research and training excellence. 


We are conducting three multi-site research projects evaluating the effects of very low nicotine content (VLNC) cigarettes in vulnerable populations. 


We have a program to support developmental studies in tobacco regulatory science and respond to time-sensitive research priorities. 


We have a predoctoral and postdoctoral training program to develop a new generation of scientists in tobacco regulatory science. 


Our multidisciplinary project has been designed to provide the FDA with critically important empirical evidence on the impact of tobacco products in vulnerable populations relevant to its regulatory responsibilities, while also contributing new scientific knowledge on reducing the addictiveness of tobacco products and associated adverse health consequences in vulnerable populations.