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Kurt Ribisl, Ph.D. - UNC-Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill, NC, US

Kurt Ribisl, Ph.D. Kurt Ribisl, Ph.D.

Program Leader, Cancer Prevention and Control Program; Co-Director, Cancer Control Education Program; Professor, Health Behavior, Cancer Prevention and Control | UNC-Chapel Hill


Kurt Ribisl’s primary research interest is improving the reach of population-level efforts to reduce tobacco use, with emphasis on policy.






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Kurt M. Ribisl is a professor in the Department of Health Behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the Program Leader for Cancer Prevention and Control at UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is also a member of the congressionally mandated Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) for the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products.

Ribisl’s primary research interest is evaluating and improving the reach of population-level efforts to reduce tobacco use, with a particular emphasis on policy and information technology. He specializes in studying policy issues related to the sales and marketing of tobacco products at the point of sale and on the Internet. He has researched tobacco product marketing, pricing, promotions, and youth access, as well as use of geographic information systems (GIS) in tobacco control. He has evaluated the impact of local, state, federal (e.g., Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act), and global policies related to the sales and marketing of tobacco products. Dr. Ribisl is the principal investigator of the $19.4M Center for Regulatory Research in Tobacco Communication funded by the NIH Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS) program (RFA-DA-13-003). He is also a multi-principal investigator (with Drs. Lisa Henriksen and Doug Luke) of the NCI-funded grant “Maximizing state & local policies to restrict tobacco marketing at point of sale” (1U01CA154281), which is collecting national data on tobacco product marketing, tobacco retailer density, and state tobacco control activities focused on the point of sale.

Ribisl received his doctorate in community psychology from Michigan State University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular disease prevention and epidemiology at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Ribisl is the author of over 110 scientific articles, and his research has been published in journals such as the American Journal of Public Health, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and Tobacco Control. He is the co-founder of Counter Tobacco, a point-of-sale resource (www.countertobacc.org), and of the nonprofit Counter Tools (www.countertools.org), which focuses on advancing place-based public health.

Industry Expertise (3)

Health Care - Services



Areas of Expertise (11)

Tobacco Regulatory Science

Public Health

Community Outreach

Global Health

Qualitative Research

Grant Writing

Program Evaluation


Health Promotion

Policy Analysis


Accomplishments (2)

Health Teaching Innovation Award (professional)


Awarded by UNC Gillings School of Global Public .

Health Education Teacher of the Year (professional)


Awarded by students of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

Education (3)

Michigan State University: Ph.D., Community Psychology 1995

Michigan State University: M.A., Community Psychology 1992

Wake Forest University: B.A., Psychology 1989

Affiliations (3)

  • American Public Health Association
  • American Society of Preventive Oncology
  • Society for Research in Nicotine and Tobacco

Media Appearances (3)

Why do teens still smoke? On addiction, advertising, and the rise of e-cigarettes

FOX News  online


Kurt Ribisl, a health behavior professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), pointed out that social media makes regulating advertising to teens more challenging ...

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Q&A with e-cigarettes expert Kurt Ribisl

The Daily Tar Heel  online


Kurt Ribisl, a health behavior professor in UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, served on the team that helped compile the report ...

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Michael Bloomberg Pushes To Make New York City Cigarettes Cost At Least $10.50 Per Pack

ThinkProgress  online


“This is kind of a landmark set of proposals here,” said Kurt Ribisl, a professor of public health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill ...

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Event Appearances (5)

Social reactions to graphic cigarette pack warnings: A pilot study

36th Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine  San Antonio, TX


Systematic review of measures used in graphic cigarette pack warning experiments

Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco 21st Annual Meeting  Philadelphia, PA


The impact of graphic cigarette pack warnings: A meta-analysis of experimental studies

Sixty-fourth Annual Conference of the International Communication Association  Seattle, WA


Creating State and Local Child Proof Tobacco Markets by 2020

National Conference on Tobacco or Health  Kansas City, MO


A novel evaluation of “World Tobacco Day” in Latin America

Annual Meeting and Convention of the American Public Health Association  Washington DC


Articles (5)

Regulating Tobacco Product Advertising and Promotions in the Retail Environment:

The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics

2015 Recent amendments to federal law and a burgeoning body of research have intensified public health officials' interest in reducing youth initiation of tobacco use, including by regulating the time, place, or manner of tobacco product advertising at the point of sale. This article analyzes legal obstacles to various strategies for reducing youth initiation.

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A systematic review of neighborhood disparities in point-of-sale tobacco marketing

American Journal of Public Health

2015 We systematically reviewed evidence of disparities in tobacco marketing at tobacco retailers by sociodemographic neighborhood characteristics. We identified 43 relevant articles from 893 results of a systematic search in 10 databases updated May 28, 2014. We found 148 associations of marketing (price, placement, promotion, or product availability) with a neighborhood demographic of interest (socioeconomic disadvantage, race, ethnicity, and urbanicity).

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Is there a relationship between the concentration of same-sex couples and tobacco retailer density?

Nicotine & Tobacco Research

2015 Tobacco use is markedly higher among lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations than heterosexuals. Higher density of tobacco retailers is found in neighborhoods with lower income and more racial/ethnic minorities. Same-sex couples tend to live in similar neighborhoods, but the association of this demographic with tobacco retailer density has not been examined.

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Pictorial cigarette pack warnings: A meta-analysis of experimental studies

Tobacco Control

2015 Objective: To inform international research and policy, we conducted a meta-analysis of the experimental literature on pictorial cigarette pack warnings. Data sources: We systematically searched 7 computerised databases in April 2013 using several search terms. We also searched reference lists of relevant articles.

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Electronic Cigarette Sales to Minors via the Internet

JAMA Pediatrics

2015 Objective: To estimate the extent to which minors can successfully purchase e-cigarettes online and assess compliance with North Carolina’s 2013 e-cigarette age-verification law.

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