Richard O'Connor, PhD Richard O'Connor, PhD

Richard O'Connor


About Richard O'Connor


Dr. Richard J. O'Connor is a Professor of Oncology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. He joined Roswell Park's staff in 2004 as a Postdoctoral Fellow and was appointed Member of the Department of Health Behavior, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences in 2015. Additionally, he serves as Director of Graduate Studies for the Cancer Pathology and Prevention doctoral program in the Roswell Park Graduate Division (University at Buffalo), Adjunct Assistant Professor of Community Health and Health Behavior, and as Research Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health with the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Dr. O'Connor has authored more than 100 scientific papers on topics related to tobacco control. His program of research focuses on building the evidence base for tobacco regulatory science, with a particular focus on product-user interactions. He is a co-investigator on the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (ITC), which is investigating the impact of national level tobacco control policies across more than 20 different countries. He is also a project director on the NCI-funded Consortium on Methods for Evaluating Tobacco (COMET), which is working to develop state-of-the art methods for assessing tobacco product abuse liability, consumer perceptions, and toxicity. 

Other work focuses include: impact of tobacco policy on product use, assessment of consumer interest in novel tobacco products as substitutes for cigarettes, and the development of unobtrusive methods for assessing smoke exposure. 

The Tobacco Research Laboratory, which Dr. O’Connor directs, works to characterize popular products sold on the international market in terms of physical and design features, so as to provide greater insight into user-product interactions that may affect addiction and/or health outcomes. The laboratory also houses the International Tobacco Product Repository, which is creating cohort surveillance of popular tobacco products in a number of countries. 

Dr. O’Connor’s  work has been published in Addiction, American Journal of Epidemiology, British Medical Journal, Tobacco Control, Nicotine and Tobacco Research, and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention.


Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Professor of Oncology
  • Department of Health Behavior
  • Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences
  • Member (Epidemiology & Prevention)
  • Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Cancer Pathology and Prevention
  • Roswell Park Graduate Division
State University of New York at Buffalo
  • Research Assistant Professor of Social and Preventive Medicine
  • School of Public Health and Health Professions


Education and Training:

  • PhD - Biobehavioral Health, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
  • BA - Psychology, George Washington University, Washington, DC


Research Overview:

Dr. O'Connor's research spans mechanisms of tobacco addiction including patterns of tobacco use, development of unobtrusive and minimally invasive measures of tobacco exposure in humans, and ways to communicate effectively with consumers about tobacco products.

Clinical Trials


Full Publications list on PubMed
  • Alpert HR, O'Connor RJ, Spalletta R, Connolly GN. Recent Advances in Cigarette Ignition Propensity Research and Development. Fire technology 2010; 46(2):275-289
  • Ashley DL, Yan X, Xia Y, Zhang L, Fong GT, King B, Shahab L, McNeill A, Cummings KM, Giovino GA, Hatsukami DK, Hammond D, Jain RB, Polzin GM, Watson CH, Bernert JT, O'Connor RJ, McCraw JM. Effect of differing levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in cigarette smoke on the levels of biomarkers in smokers. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers and prevention 2010; 19(6):1389-1398
  • Fix BV, Thompson ME, Yong H-H, Cummings KM, Boado M, Thrasher J, McNeill A, King B, Hammond D, O'Connor R, Hyland A. ITC "spit and butts" pilot study: the feasibility of collecting saliva and cigarette butt samples from smokers to evaluate policy. Nicotine and tobacco research 2010; 12(3):185-190
  • Kahler CW, Borland R, Hyland A, McKee SA, O'Connor RJ, Fong GT, Cummings KM. Quitting smoking and change in alcohol consumption in the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey. Drug and alcohol dependence 2010; 110(1-2):101-107
  • O'Connor RJ, June KM, Li Z, Romanoff L, Sjödin A, Alpert HR, Connolly GN, Cummings KM, Norton KJ, Rees VW, Giovino GA. Does switching to reduced ignition propensity cigarettes alter smoking behavior or exposure to tobacco smoke constituents?. Nicotine and tobacco research 2010; 12(10):1011-1018
  • Borland R, Yong H, Balmford J, Cooper J, Cummings KM, O'Connor RJ, McNeill A, Zanna MP, Fong GT. Motivational factors predict quit attempts but not maintenance of smoking cessation: findings from the International Tobacco Control Four country project. Nicotine and tobacco research 2010; 12(Suppl. 1):S4-S11
  • Borland R, Yong H-H, O'Connor RJ, Hyland A, Thompson ME. The reliability and predictive validity of the Heaviness of Smoking Index and its two components: findings from the International Tobacco Control Four Country study. Nicotine and tobacco research 2010; 12(Suppl. 1):S45-S50
  • Cooper J, Borland R, Yong H, McNeill A, Murray RL, O'Connor RJ, Cummings KM. To what extent do smokers make spontaneous quit attempts and what are the implications for smoking cessation maintenance? Findings from the International Tobacco Control Four country survey. Nicotine and tobacco research 2010; 12(Suppl. 1):S51-S57
  • Elton-Marshall T, Cummings KM, Borland R, Li Q, King B, Li L, Yong HH, O'Connor RJ, Hammond D, Jiang Y, Zanna MP, Fong GT, Driezen P. Beliefs about the relative harm of "light" and "low tar" cigarettes: findings from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) China Survey. Tobacco control 2010;19(Suppl. 2):i54-i62
  • King B, Borland R, Abdul-Salaam S, Polzin G, Ashley D, Watson C, O'Connor RJ. Divergence between strength indicators in packaging and cigarette engineering: a case study of Marlboro varieties in Australia and the USA. Tobacco control 2010; 19(5):398-402
  • Li Q, Hyland A, O'Connor R, Zhao G, Du L, Li X, Fong GT. Support for smoke-free policies among smokers and non-smokers in six cities in China: ITC China Survey. Tobacco control 2010; 19(Suppl. 2):i40-i46
  • Liu RL, Li Q, Feng GZ, Nan Y, Li L, Hyland A, O'Connor RJ, Fong GT, Travers MJ, Yang Y, Jiang Y. A cross-sectional study on levels of second-hand smoke in restaurants and bars in five cities in China. Tobacco control2010; 19(Suppl. 2):i24-i29
  • O'Connor RJ, Fix BV, Giovino GA, Hyland A, Fong GT, Cummings KM. The impact of reduced ignition propensity cigarette regulation on smoking behaviour in a cohort of Ontario smokers. Injury prevention 2010; 16(6):420-422
  • O'Connor RJ, Li QA, Stephens WE, Hammond D, Elton-Marshall T, Cummings KM, Giovino GA, Fong GT. Cigarettes sold in China: design, emissions and metals. Tobacco control 2010; 19(Suppl. 2):i47-i53
  • O'Connor RJ, Wilkins KJ, Caruso RV, Cummings KM, Kozlowski LT. Cigarette characteristic and emission variations across high-, middle- and low-income countries. Public health 2010; 124(12):667-674
  • Seidenberg AB, Rees VW, Alpert HR, O'Connor RJ, Connolly GN. Ignition strength of 25 international cigarette brands. Tobacco control 2011; 20(1):77-80
  • Bogen K, Parascandola M, O'Connor RJ, McNeill A, Marcus S, Hartman A, Cummings KM, Allen J, Garrett CA, Biener L, Pederson L. Surveillance indicators for potential reduced exposure products (PREPs): developing survey items to measure awareness. Harm reduction journal 2009; 6:27
  • Carter LP, Stitzer ML, Henningfield JE, O'Connor RJ, Cummings KM, Hatsukami DK. Abuse liability assessment of tobacco products including potential reduced exposure products. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers and prevention 2009; 18(12):3241-3262
  • Grainge MJ, Shahab L, Hammond D, O'Connor RJ, McNeill A. First cigarette on waking and time of day as predictors of puffing behaviour in UK adult smokers. Drug and alcohol dependence 2009; 101(3):191-195
  • Hanson K, O'Connor R, Hatsukami D. Measures for assessing subjective effects of potential reduced-exposure products. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers and prevention 2009; 18(12):3209-3224
  • Hatsukami DK, Hanson K, Briggs A, Parascandola M, Genkinger JM, O'Connor R, Shields PG. Clinical trials methods for evaluation of potential reduced exposure products. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers and prevention 2009;18(12):3143-3195
  • Marian C, O'Connor RJ, Djordjevic MV, Rees VW, Hatsukami DK, Shields PG.Reconciling human smoking behavior and machine smoking patterns: implications for understanding smoking behavior and the impact on laboratory studies. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers and prevention 2009; 18(12):3305-3320
  • O'Connor RJ, Cummings KM, Rees VW, Connolly GN, Norton KJ, Sweanor D, Parascandola M, Hatsukami DK, Shields PG. Surveillance methods for identifying, characterizing, and monitoring tobacco products: potential reduced exposure products as an example. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers and prevention 2009; 18(12):3334-3348
  • Pauly JL, O'Connor RJ, Paszkiewicz GM, Cummings KM, Djordjevic MV, Shields PG. Cigarette filter-based assays as proxies for toxicant exposure and smoking behavior--a literature review. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers and prevention 2009; 18(12):3321-3333
  • Pauly JL, Rees V, O'Connor R. Philip Morris clinical study of carbon filtered cigarettes challenged by nondisclosure issues. Nicotine and tobacco research2009; 11(10):1245-1246; author reply 1247-1248
  • Rees VW, Kreslake JM, Cummings KM, O'Connor RJ, Hatsukami DK, Parascandola M, Shields PG, Connolly GN. Assessing consumer responses to potential reduced-exposure tobacco products: a review of tobacco industry and independent research methods. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers and prevention 2009; 18(12):3225-3240
  • Rees VW, Kreslake JM, O'Connor RJ, Cummings KM, Parascandola M, Hatsukami D, Shields PG, Connolly GN. Methods used in internal industry clinical trials to assess tobacco risk reduction. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers and prevention 2009; 18(12):3196-3208
  • Thrasher JF, Villalobos V, Dorantes-Alonso A, Arillo-Santillan E, Michael Cummings K, O'Connor R, Fong GT. Does the availability of single cigarettes promote or inhibit cigarette consumption? Perceptions, prevalence and correlates of single cigarette use among adult Mexican smokers. Tobacco control 2009; 18(6):431-437
  • Gartner CE, Jimenez-Soto EV, Borland R, O'Connor RJ, Hall WD. Are Australian smokers interested in using low-nitrosamine smokeless tobacco for harm reduction?. Tobacco control 2010; 19(6):451-456
  • King B, Hammond D, Lee WB, Elton-Marshall T, Bansal-Travers M, O'Connor RJ, Hamann S, Sirirassamee B, Ahmad AA, Omar M, Borland R, Yong HH, Thrasher J. Malaysian and Thai smokers' beliefs about the harmfulness of 'light' and menthol cigarettes. Tobacco control 2010; 19(6):444-450
  • Licht AS, Hyland AJ, O'Connor RJ, Chaloupka FJ, Borland R, Fong GT, Nargis N, Cummings KM. Socio-economic variation in price minimizing behaviors: findings from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey. International journal of environmental research and public health 2011;8(1):234-252
  • O'Connor RJ, Norton KJ, Bansal-Travers M, Mahoney MC, Cummings KM, Borland R. US smokers' reactions to a brief trial of oral nicotine products. Harm reduction journal 2011; 8(1):1
  • Thrasher JF, Villalobos V, Barnoya J, Sansores R, O'Connor R. Consumption of single cigarettes and quitting behavior: A longitudinal analysis of Mexican smokers. BMC public health 2011; 11:134
  • Yang J, Hammond D, Driezen P, O'Connor RJ, Li Q, Yong H-H, Fong GT, Jiang Y. The use of cessation assistance among smokers from China: Findings from the ITC China Survey. BMC public health 2011; 11:75
  • Bansal-Travers M, O'Connor R, Fix BV, Cummings KM. What do cigarette pack colors communicate to smokers in the U.S.? . American journal of preventive medicine 2011; 40(6):683-689
  • Box HC, O'Connor RJ, Patrzyc HB, Iijima H, Dawidzik JB, Freund HG, Budzinski EE, Cummings KM, Mahoney MC. Reduction in oxidatively generated DNA damage following smoking cessation. Tobacco induced diseases 2011; 9(1):5
  • Callery WE, O'Connor RJ, Fong GT. The appeal of smokeless tobacco products among young Canadian smokers: the impact of pictorial health warnings and relative risk messages. Nicotine and tobacco research 2011;13(5):373-383
  • Healton CG, Cummings KM, O'Connor RJ, Novotny TE. Butt really? The environmental impact of cigarettes. Tobacco control 2011; 20(Suppl. 1):i1
  • Licht AS, Hyland AJ, O'Connor RJ, Chaloupka FJ, Borland R, Fong GT, Nargis N, Cummings KM. How Do Price Minimizing Behaviors Impact Smoking Cessation? Findings from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey. International journal of environmental research and public health 2011; 8(5):1671-1691
  • Mutti S, Hammond D, Borland R, Cummings MK, O'Connor RJ, Fong GT.Beyond light and mild: cigarette brand descriptors and perceptions of risk in the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey. Addiction (Abingdon, England) 2011; 106(6):1166-1175
  • Smith P, Bansal-Travers M, O'Connor R, Brown A, Banthin C, Guardino-Colket S, Cummings KM. Correcting over 50 years of tobacco industry misinformation.American journal of preventive medicine 2011; 40(6):690-698
  • Borland R, King B, Siahpush M, McNeill A, Hastings G, O'Connor RJ, Elton-Marshall T, Zanna MP. What happened to smokers' beliefs about light cigarettes when "light/mild" brand descriptors were banned in the UK? Findings from the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey. Tobacco control 2008; 17(4):256-262
  • Burns DM, Opperhuizen A, Jarvis M, Hainaut P, Dresler C, Djordjevic M,O'Connor R, Sanner T, Anderson C, Hecht S, Gray N, Dybing E, Straif K.Mandated lowering of toxicants in cigarette smoke: a description of the World Health Organization TobReg proposal. Tobacco control 2008; 17(2):132-141
  • Hammond D, O'Connor RJ. Constituents in tobacco and smoke emissions from Canadian cigarettes. Tobacco control 2008; 17(Suppl. 1):i24-i31
  • Kozlowski LT, Whetzel CA, Stellman SD, O'Connor RJ. Ignoring puff counts: another shortcoming of the Federal Trade Commission cigarette testing programme. Tobacco control 2008; 17(Suppl. 1):i6-i9
  • Norton KJ, Wilkins K, O'Connor R, Wilson N, Edwards R, Peace J. Properties of "light" cigarettes sold in New Zealand. New Zealand medical journal 2008;121(1281):107-110
  • O'Connor RJ, Carlin-Menter SM, Celestino PB, Bax P, Brown A, Cummings KM, Bauer JE. Using direct mail to prompt smokers to call a quitline. Health promotion practice 2008; 9(3):262-270
  • O'Connor RJ, Hammond D, McNeill A, King B, Kozlowski LT, Giovino GA, Cummings KM. How do different cigarette design features influence the standard tar yields of popular cigarette brands sold in different countries? .Tobacco control 2008; 17 Suppl. 1:i1-i5
  • O'Connor RJ, Hurley PJ. Existing technologies to reduce specific toxicant emissions in cigarette smoke. Tobacco control 2008; 17 Suppl. 1:i39-i48
  • Ashare RL, Hawk LW Jr, Cummings KM, O'Connor RJ, Fix BV, Schmidt WC.Smoking expectancies for flavored and non-flavored cigarettes among college students. Addictive behaviors 2007; 32(6):1252-1261
  • Hammond D, Arnott D, Connolly GN, McNeill A, O'Connor RJ, Cummings KM, Borland R, Kozlowski LT, Wiebel F, Fong GT. Revising the machine smoking regime for cigarette emissions: implications for tobacco control policy. Tobacco control 2007; 16(1):8-14
  • O'Connor RJ, Ashare RL, Cummings KM, Hawk LW Jr. Comparing smoking behaviors and exposures from flavored and unflavored cigarettes. Addictive behaviors 2007; 32(4):869-874
  • O'Connor RJ, Ashare RL, Fix BV, Hawk LW, Cummings KM, Schmidt WC.College students' expectancies for light cigarettes and potential reduced exposure products. American journal of health behavior 2007; 31(4):402-410
  • O'Connor RJ, Bauer JE, Giovino GA, Hammond D, Hyland A, Fong GT, Cummings KM. Prevalence of behaviors related to cigarette-caused fires: a survey of Ontario smokers. Injury prevention 2007; 13(4):237-242
  • Vandenbergh DJ, O'Connor RJ, Grant MD, Jefferson AL, Vogler GP, Strasser AA, Kozlowski LT. Dopamine receptor genes (DRD2, DRD3 and DRD4) and gene-gene interactions associated with smoking-related behaviors. Addiction biology 2007; 12(1):106-116
  • Cummings KM, Brown A, O'Connor R. The cigarette controversy. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers and prevention 2007; 16(6):1070-1076
  • Klein SM, Giovino GA, Barker DC, Tworek C, Cummings KM, O'Connor RJ.Use of flavored cigarettes among older adolescent and adult smokers: United States, 2004--2005. Nicotine and tobacco research 2008; 10(7):1209-1214
  • O'Connor RJ, Kozlowski LT, Hammond D, Vance TT, Stitt JP, Cummings KM.Digital image analysis of cigarette filter staining to estimate smoke exposure. Nicotine and tobacco research 2007; 9(8):865-871
  • O'Connor RJ, McNeill A, Borland R, Hammond D, King B, Boudreau C, Cummings KM. Smokers' beliefs about the relative safety of other tobacco products: findings from the ITC collaboration. Nicotine and tobacco research2007; 9(10):1033-1042
  • Rezaishiraz H, Hyland A, Mahoney MC, O'Connor RJ, Cummings KM. Treating smokers before the quit date: can nicotine patches and denicotinized cigarettes reduce cravings? . Nicotine and tobacco research 2007; 9(11):1139-1146
  • Shahab L, Hammond D, O'Connor RJ, Michael Cummings K, Borland R, King B, McNeill A. The reliability and validity of self-reported puffing behavior: evidence from a cross-national study. Nicotine and tobacco research 2008;10(5):867-874
  • Young D, Yong HH, Borland R, Ross H, Sirirassamee B, Kin F, Hammond D,O'Connor R, Fong GT. Prevalence and correlates of roll-your-own smoking in Thailand and Malaysia: Findings of the ITC-South East Asia Survey. Nicotine and tobacco research 2008; 10(5):907-915
  • Borland R, Cooper J, McNeill A, O'Connor R, Cummings KM. Trends in beliefs about the harmfulness and use of stop-smoking medications and smokeless tobacco products among cigarettes smokers: Findings from the ITC four-country survey. Harm reduction journal 2011; 8:21
  • Cummings KM, Hyland A, Zevon M, Kelly M, Long MA, Demmy TL, Dexter E, Reed R, Epstein J, Houston T, Jenkins D, Mahoney M, O'Connor R, Marshall JR, Reid ME, Smith JL, Chmura M, Warren GW. An institutional universal standardized tobacco use assessment and intervention in cancer patients : ASCO Meeting Abstracts Part 1. Journal of clinical oncology 2011; 29(15 Suppl.):e16543
  • Borland R, Li L, Mortimer K, McNeil A, King B, O'Connor RJ. The acceptability of nicotine containing products as alternatives to cigarettes: findings from two pilot studies. Harm reduction journal 2011; 8:27
  • June KM, Norton KJ, Rees VW, O'Connor RJ. Influence of measurement setting and home smoking policy on smoking topography. Addictive behaviors2012; 37(1):42-46
  • Liu R, Yang Y, Travers M, Fong G, O'Connor R, Hyland A, Li L, Nan Y, Feng G, Li Q, Jiang Y. A cross-sectional study on levels of secondhand smoke in restaurants and bars in five cities in China. Tobacco control 2011; 20(6):397-402
  • Yong H-H, Borland R, Cummings KM, Hammond D, O'Connor RJ, Hastings G, King B. Impact of the removal of misleading terms on cigarette pack on smokers' beliefs about 'light/mild' cigarettes: cross-country comparisons.Addiction (Abingdon, England) 2011; 106(12):2204-2213
  • Fix BV, O'Connor RJ, Fong GT, Borland R, Cummings KM, Hyland A. Smokers' reactions to FDA regulation of tobacco products: findings from the 2009 ITC United States survey. BMC public health 2011; 11:941
  • June KM, Hammond D, Sjodin A, Li Z, Romanoff L, O'Connor RJ. Cigarette ignition propensity, smoking behavior, and toxicant exposure: A natural experiment in Canada. Tobacco induced diseases 2011; 9(1):13
  • O'connor RJ. Postmarketing surveillance for "modified-risk" tobacco products.Nicotine and tobacco research 2012; 14(1):29-42
  • O'Connor RJ. Non-cigarette tobacco products: what have we learnt and where are we headed?. Tobacco control 2012; 21(2):181-190
  • Caruso RV, O'Connor RJ. Cigarette design features in low-, middle-, and high-income countries. Journal of environmental and public health 2012; 2012:269576
  • Li Q, Hu T-W, Mao Z, O'Connor RJ, Fong GT, Wu C, Zhang J, Quah ACK, Jiang Y. When a tax increase fails as a tobacco control policy: the ITC China project evaluation of the 2009 cigarette tax increase in China. Tobacco control2012; 21(3):381
  • Seidenberg AB, Rees VW, Alpert HR, O'Connor RJ, Giovino GA, Hyland A, Connolly GN. Smokers' self-reported responses to the introduction of reduced ignition propensity (RIP) cigarettes. Tobacco control 2012; 21(3):337-340
  • O'Connor RJ, Bansal-Travers M, Carter LP, Cummings KM. What would menthol smokers do if menthol in cigarettes were banned? Behavioral intentions and simulated demand. Addiction (Abingdon, England) 2012;107(7):1330-1338
  • Trummer BJ, Iyer V, Balu-Iyer SV, O'Connor R, Straubinger RM.Physicochemical properties of epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors and development of a nanoliposomal formulation of gefitinib. Journal of pharmaceutical sciences 2012; 101(8):2763-2776
  • Rees VW, Kreslake JM, Wayne GF, O'Connor RJ, Cummings KM, Connolly GN. Role of cigarette sensory cues in modifying puffing topography. Drug and alcohol dependence 2012; 124(1-2):1-10

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