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Open Access Agent-based Modeling in Tobacco Regulatory Science: Exploring 'What if' in Waterpipe Smoking

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Objectives: Waterpipe tobacco smoking (WTS) is an emerging public health crisis, particularly among youth and young adults. Different from the use of other tobacco products and e-cigarettes, WTS tends to be a social activity occurring among friends or persons associated with social networks. In this paper, we review a potential strategy for WTS-related research. Methods: As a bottom-up computational model, agent-based modeling (ABM) can simulate the actions and interactions of agents, as well as the dynamic interactions between agents and their environments, to gain an understanding of the functioning of a system. ABM is particularly useful for incorporating the influence of social networks in WTS, and capturing people's space-time activity and the spatial distribution of WTS venues. Results: Comprehensive knowledge of WTS-related behaviors at the individual level is needed to take advantage of ABM and use it to examine policies such as the interaction between WTS and cigarette smoking and the effect of flavors used in waterpipe tobacco. Longitudinal and WTS-specific surveys and laboratory experiments are particularly helpful to understand WTS basic mechanisms and elicit individual preferences, respectively. Conclusions: We argue that the uniqueness of WTS makes ABM a promising tool to be used in WTS-related research, as well as understanding use of other tobacco products.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 2020

More about this publication?
  • Tobacco Regulatory Science (Electronic ISSN 2333-9748) is a rigorously peer-reviewed online scientific journal for the dissemination of research relevant to the regulation of tobacco products. The journal content includes a broad array of research domains, including chemistry, biology, behavior, community, and population-level surveillance and epidemiology, as well as knowledge syntheses (eg, meta-analyses or state-of-the-art reviews) and analytic modeling. All articles describe the policy relevance of the research outcomes. Given the global nature of tobacco regulation, particularly as a result of international and national policies, Tobacco Regulatory Science publishes high quality research that is relevant to global regulatory needs and requirements. Tobacco Regulatory Science is published electronically 6 times per year.
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