William G. Shadel

Photo of William Shadel
Senior Behavioral Scientist
Pittsburgh Office


Ph.D., M.A. in clinical health psychology and social-personality psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago; B.A. in psychology, Temple University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

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William Shadel is a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation. He also holds an adjunct faculty appointment in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and is a member of the Biobehavioral Oncology Program at the UPMC-Hillman Cancer Center. Before joining RAND in 2005, he was a faculty member at Brown University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Shadel's research ranges from basic human laboratory work designed to understand the biopsychosocial mechanisms that contribute to smoking initiation and cessation to evaluating cognitive-behavioral and pharmacological smoking cessation interventions in the clinic and public health settings. He has published nearly 150 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters since 1993 and has been continuously funded as a principal investigator by the National Cancer Institute and National Institute on Drug Abuse since 1999. Shadel's current grants examine how tobacco advertising at point-of-sale retail locations influences tobacco use behavior in adolescents and adults. He has been or is currently on the editorial board of several journals, was associate editor of the American Psychological Association journal, Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, from 2005 to 2007, and has served as a regular and ad hoc member of several grant review panels at the National Institutes of Health since 1999.

Shadel received his Ph.D. in clinical health psychology and social/personality psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Research Focus

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh; Member, Biobehavioral Oncology Program, UPMC-Hillman Cancer Center

Recent Projects

  • Shrinking the size of the tobacco powerwall and restricting the number of tobacco products displayed to reduce adolescent tobacco use.
  • Experimentally testing legally feasible regulatory options for reducing the impact of the point-of-sale retail environment on adolescent tobacco use.
  • Testing the impact of tobacco product graphic warning labels at retail point-of-sale
  • Reducing the effect of tobacco powerwall displays at retail point-of-sale
  • The impact of standardized tobacco product packaging on young adults in the retail environment

Selected Publications

Shadel, W.G., Martino, S., Setodji, C., Scharf, D., & Creswell, K. , "Do graphic health warning labels on cigarette packages deter purchases at point-of-sale? An experiment with adult smokers," Health Education Research, 34, 2019

Shadel, W.G., Martino, S., Setodji, C., Dunbar, M., Kusuke, D., Lanna, S., & Meyer, A., "Placing anti-smoking graphic warning posters at retail point-of-sale locations increases some adolescents’ susceptibility to future smoking," Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 21, 2019

Shadel, W.G., Martino, S., Setodji, C., Cervone, D., & Witkiewitz, K. , "Does self-efficacy causally influence initial smoking cessation? An experimental study," Addictive Behaviors, 73, 2017

Shadel, W.G., Martino, S., Setodji, C., Scharf, D., Kusuke, D., Sicker, A., & Gong, M., "Hiding the tobacco power wall reduces cigarette smoking risk in adolescents: Using an experimental convenience store to assess tobacco regulatory options at retail point-of-sale," Tobacco Control, 25, 2016

Shadel, W.G., Galvan, F.H., & Tucker, J.S. , "Developing a nicotine patch adherence intervention for HIV-positive Latino Smokers," Addictive Behaviors, 59, 2016

Shadel, W.G., Tucker, J.S., Golinelli, D., "Readjusting our priorities: Helping homeless youth quit smoking.," American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 49, 2015

Shadel, W.G., Martino, S.C., Setodji, C., & Scharf, D., "Momentary effects of exposure to pro-smoking media on college students' future smoking risk," Health Psychology, 31, 2012

Shadel, W.G., Martino, S.C., Setodji, C., Haviland, A., Primack, B. & Scharf, D., "Motives for smoking in movies affect future smoking intentions in middle school students: An experimental investigation," Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 123, 2012

Honors & Awards

  • Fellow, Association for Psychological Science

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: BBC Online


  • Hands holding electronic and conventional tobacco cigarettes

    Can Vaping Help Smokers Quit? The Real Story from a Real Story

    Evidence doesn't support using electronic cigarettes to quit smoking. In fact, doing so could even lead to reduced chances of quitting. Evidence does show that other options work, such as nicotine replacement patches or gum combined with counseling strategies.

    Nov 16, 2017 BASIS

  • Brandy Tseu uses an electronic cigarette at The Vapor Spot vapor bar in Los Angeles, California, March 4, 2014

    The Smoke and Mirrors of Tobacco Regulations

    With new regulations on more products such as e-cigarettes, the FDA is moving forward to protect the public from the harms of tobacco. But there are many ways the regulations as they're currently proposed could change.

    May 9, 2016 Newsweek

  • Cigarette butts in a public ashtray

    Sniping: Homeless Youths' High-Risk Smoking Practice

    Any intervention to help homeless youth quit smoking must also address 'sniping.' This high-risk activity involves scavenging cigarette butts and filters to make a 'new' cigarette.

    Oct 29, 2015 Orange County Register

  • A vendor smokes a cigarette as he waits for customers at a market in Hefei, China, January 9, 2015

    Snuffing Out China's Deadly Habit

    To help address China's smoking problem, China's parliament is considering a ban on all tobacco ads except those at point-of-sale retail locations. How does this compare to the current state of play regarding Chinese tobacco ads? And could the new law shift the tobacco-control landscape?

    Feb 2, 2015 U.S. News & World Report

  • A pack of cigarettes with a warning label in Montreal, Canada, June 28, 2007

    Graphic Warning Labels on Cigarettes Are Scary, but Do They Work?

    'Graphic warning labels' pair gruesome images with warnings about the dangers of smoking, covering anywhere from 30 to 80 percent of cigarette pack 'faces' (the front and back). Do they prevent people from starting to smoke or cause current smokers to quit?

    Sep 30, 2014 The Health Care Blog

  • Shelves full of cigarettes at a CVS store in Manhattan, February 5, 2014

    CVS Health: Breathing a Little Easier and Holding Our Breath

    CVS has officially stopped selling cigarettes and other tobacco products, a move that will cost the pharmacy chain about $2 billion in annual profits. It's difficult to say if this will affect smoking. For now, the ban is most significant for what it represents symbolically.

    Sep 12, 2014 The Health Care Blog

  • Gabor Kovacs of 'smoke no smoke' displays e-cigarettes that his shop sells at Camden in London

    FDA's New Tobacco Rules Go Far Enough—For Now

    At this point, asking the FDA to restrict marketing or to ban flavored products would be premature. The base of scientific evidence is growing but it doesn't support additional regulatory action beyond what the FDA has already proposed.

    Jun 12, 2014 The Hill

  • woman smoking an electronic cigarette

    Where There's Vapor, Is There Fire? We Need Evidence on E-Cigarettes

    Currently, evidence for the safety, harmfulness, utility, and addictiveness of e-cigarettes is lacking. The questions that research needs to answer, however, are clear as day—particularly since business is booming.

    Mar 4, 2014 The Health Care Blog

  • offering a cigarette from the pack on the street

    Big Tobacco vs. Tobacco Regulation and Control: An Even Match?

    Anti-tobacco policies that have clear scientific support will strengthen the FDA's regulatory position. While the evidence base is solid in this area, it needs to be much stronger and broader if the TCA is going to have any lasting success against the industry.

    Aug 26, 2013 The RAND Blog