Rebecca S. Williams

MHS, PhD, Research Associate, School of Medicine, UNC-Chapel Hill, Cancer Prevention and Control

Rebecca S. Williams

MHS, PhD
Research Associate, School of Medicine
UNC-Chapel Hill
Cancer Prevention and Control

919-843-9465


Area of interest

Dr. Williams is a researcher at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. As Chief Technology Officer for the national CDC- and NCI-funded Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network, she manages technology, online collaboration, and online data collection initiatives for the network’s research, which focuses on development and dissemination of evidence-based approaches to cancer control. She also leads the application development and North Carolina trial arms of the Smoke-Free Homes Project, an NCI-funded multi-state intervention developed with her CPCRN partners to promote smoke-free home policies in low income households who call the 2-1-1 social services information and referral hotline. 

Since 1999, Dr. Williams has studied the sales and marketing practices of websites that sell tobacco products, leading the NCI and FDA Center for Tobacco Products-funded Internet Tobacco Vendors Study, which includes extensive surveillance of the online retail environment for tobacco, evaluating the implementation and impact of state and federal policies on the industry’s practices, with a focus on issues such as tax evasion, youth access prevention, and emerging products like e-cigarettes. 

As the leading expert in the study of Internet tobacco sales, Dr. Willams’ research has had (and continues to have) a strong impact on informing state and federal policy surrounding Internet tobacco sales. While it has focused primarily on tobacco, this research has yielded strategies that can also be applied to online sales of other restricted products, such as alcohol, drugs, firearms, and pornography.

Dr. Williams, who was trained at the University of Rochester, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and University of North Carolina School of Public Health, is the author of numerous scientific articles in journals such as the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), JAMA Pediatrics, and Tobacco Control.

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