With restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Annual CRoFT Meeting was held virtually, held on September 10, 2020. Eight teams competed in the second annual Tobacco Regulatory Science Student Competition, hosted as part of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded Center for Research on Flavored Tobacco (CRoFT) at the University of Rochester and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. As one of nine Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS) nationally, CRoFT is funded to support Tobacco Regulatory Science research to inform regulation of tobacco products. Each of the teams proposed a novel solution regarding one of the seven priority areas identified by the Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA: toxicity, addiction, health effects, behavior, communications, marketing influences, impact analysis, and chemistry & engineering. From exploring the effects of the Modified Risk Tobacco Product statement on the addictive potential of IQOS to proposing a checklist for state smoking cessation websites, this year’s competition followed last year’s with incredible creativity and innovation.

The top three proposals are summarized below.  The first and second place winners will present their ideas in person at the FDA and NIH.  Congratulations to all!

First Place: “I Came I Conquered IQOS” – Navigating Modified Risk, Exposure, and Safety: How FDA Authorized Messages Effect the Addictive Potential of IQOS

Lovina John

An improved Modified Risk Tobacco Product statement that is clear, concise, and understandable and included on packaging/marketing materials for IQOS should be in place to effectively communicate to the public and allow for educated decisions to be made on product use. This addresses TRS priorities of Communications and Impact Analysis.

Honorable Mentions

“In the Nic of Time” – Population Density-Adjusted Scale for Zoning Tobacco Retailers

Erin Bevec and Alexis Pope

A data-driven, public health solution designed to limit access to tobacco products nationwide, especially in densely populated regions of low socioeconomic status. The intervention involves a population density-adjusted scale that designates radii around high schools in which tobacco vendors cannot operate through licensing legislation.

“Escape the Vape” – The Vaping Cessation Resources Checklist: An Audit Tool for Web-Assisted Tobacco Interventions

Manpreet Kaur, Astghik Baghinyan, and Lizbeth De la Rosa

This solution includes an evidence-based, comprehensive checklist for state smoking cessation websites (quitsites) that the FDA could impose in order to ensure effective smoking cessation methods (including vaping cessation). Additionally, it would create more consistency among states’ quitsites and would include marketing efforts to promote them.

The Tobacco Regulatory Science (TRS) Student Competition is organized by Scott Steele, Ph.D. and Deborah Ossip, Ph.D., directors of the CRoFT Career Enhancement Core, and is supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products under Award Number U54CA228110. The TRS Competition is based on a Regulatory Science Competition developed by the University of Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Regulatory Science Program.  Additional information on CTSI Regulatory Science initiatives is available here.  The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or the FDA.

Images from the 2020 Virtual Regulatory Science Student Talent Competition

Poster Session Presentation Winners

Undergraduate Mentees


Graduates Mentees


Postdoctoral Mentees