The Truth about Social Smoking among Young Adults, co-hosted by Truth Initiative


90 Minutes

Webinar Speakers

Robin Mermelstein, PhD

Director, Institute for Health Research and Policy, Professor, Psychology Department, Clinical Professor, Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health, Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois, Chicago

Robin Mermelstein, PhD. is Director of the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry, Clinical Professor of Community Health Sciences, and Co-Director of UIC’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Dr. Mermelstein has been active in health-behavior research for over 25 years, with continuous NIH funding as a Principal Investigator on tobacco-related grants since 1986. She is nationally recognized for her expertise in understanding trajectories and developmental patterns of youth smoking, for employing novel approaches to studying contextual factors in the development of nicotine dependence, for developing innovative health behavior clinical interventions for adolescents and adults, and for methodological issues in conducting tobacco-related research. Dr. Mermelstein has served on many NIH review committees, including being a former standing member of the NCI-A Cancer Centers review committee, a member of the NIDA-K study section, and chairing several Special Emphasis Panel’s for both community level health promotion and mentored career development awards. She was a member of the Institute of Medicine’s committee authoring the report on the Health Implications of Raising the Minimum Age for Purchasing Tobacco Products. In addition to her own funded research, Dr. Mermelstein has been an active mentor for many graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty, and in 2006 received the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s Clinical Mentor Award. She is the current President of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (2015-2016).

Mimi Nichter, PhD

Professor, School of Anthropology, University of Arizona

Mimi Nichter, Ph.D. is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arizona where she holds joint appointments in the College of Public Health and the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences. She has conducted ethnographic research in the U.S. and in South and Southeast Asia focusing on a range of topics related to gender and health. Dr. Nichter has published extensively on a range of tobacco-related issues, including smoking among adolescents and emerging adults, dieting and smoking among women, and tobacco marketing and advertising in low and middle income countries. She also worked for many years on school-based tobacco prevention and cessation in Arizona. She served as Co-Principal Investigator on two National Institute of Health grants to develop capacity for tobacco cessation in India and Indonesia ( At present, she is the Principal Investigator on a grant to develop culturally appropriate tobacco cessation in Istanbul, Turkey. Dr. Nichter has worked as a consultant for many global health organizations including UNICEF and the World Health Organization. She is the author of three books: Lighting Up: The Rise of Social Smoking on College Campuses; Fat Talk: What Girls and their Parents say about Dieting; and Anthropology and International Health: Asian Case Studies (with Mark Nichter).

Andrea Villanti, PhD, MPH, CHES

Director for Regulatory Science and Policy, Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies, Truth Initiative

Andrea Villanti, Ph.D., M.P.H., is director for Regulatory Science and Policy at the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Truth Initiative. She also holds an adjunct faculty appointment at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dr. Villanti’s primary focus is on translational research to improve tobacco control policy and program decision-making. Her area of expertise is in young adult tobacco use. She is the Principal Investigator on Truth Initiative’s Young Adult Cohort Study and has a two-year study, funded by the National Cancer Institute to examine social smoking in young adults. She is also a collaborating research scientist on a five-year study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Food and Drug Administration, to examine the impact of FDA regulations on tobacco products.

She received her doctorate in social and behavioral sciences from the Johns Hopkins University and her master’s in public health degree from Columbia University.

Webinar Objectives
  • Describe unique features of young adult social smokers and trends in social smoking in the U.S.

  • Discuss the social contexts in which social smoking is initiated and fostered among young adults and consider implications of this behavior

  • Understand how the social context of tobacco use varies by type of tobacco product

  • Develop and/or apply an informed strategy to assist the social smoker to quit tobacco

Additional Resources