Dr. Rees is Director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control, whose mission is to reduce the global burden of tobacco-related death and disease through training, research, and the translation of science into public health policies and programs. He directs the Tobacco Research Laboratory at the Harvard Chan School, where the design and potential for dependence of tobacco products are assessed. Studies examine the impact of dependence potential on product use and individual risk, to inform policy and other interventions to control tobacco harms. Current research uses conventional and innovative strategies to evaluate new and novel tobacco products. Examples of these products include modified risk tobacco products such as e-cigarettes; reduced ignition propensity cigarettes; hookah (tobacco waterpipe); and novel smokeless tobacco products such as snus. Clinical research methods are used to evaluate the influence of tobacco product design features on consumer responses, and their role in promoting initiation or maintenance of use among targeted populations. Findings have been used to inform tobacco control policy, develop resources for communicating risks of tobacco products, and to enhance understanding of factors that contribute to tobacco dependence.
Other research involves development of strategies to reduce secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in domestic environments, with a focus on evaluating interventions for reducing domestic SHS exposure among children. Dr. Rees also leads an NIH funded study which seeks to reduce secondhand smoke exposure among children from low income and racially/ethnically diverse backgrounds. This research utilizes the principles of community based participatory research (CBPR) to develop and evaluate a cognitive behavioral intervention to help caregivers maintain a smoke free home environment. He has conducted studies on SHS emissions of tobacco waterpipe, and SHS monitoring in indoor environments, including private homes and cars.
Dr. Rees' academic background is in health psychology (substance use and dependence), and he trained at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and did postdoctoral training through the National Institute on Drug Abuse. He has also published research on the role of cue reactivity in tobacco and alcohol abuse and dependence; and clinical trials on interventions for alcohol and cannabis dependence.