STEP Research Experience: Tobacco Policy

What? – A detailed description of what you did during your STEP experience.

For my STEP experience, I participated in a research internship with the Center of Excellence in Regulatory Tobacco Science (CERT) in OSU’s College of Public Health. During the 12-week internship, I contributed to CERT’s overall research, conducted my own research project and participated in various other activities.

CERT is conducting various tobacco research projects to determine how to best protect the public from the harms of tobacco. One aspect of the research is determine how tobacco products are advertised. I contributed to CERT’s research by examining tobacco marketing and advertisement in retail stores in Columbus and six Ohio Appalachian counties.

I also conducted my own independent research project this summer. With the help of my mentor, I conducted a literature review on e-cigarettes. I came up with a research prompt to look at the presence, content and visibility of e-cigarette warning labels on social media sites and retail websites. I collected the data by coding for 26 warnings on 41 different websites. I then analyzed the data and came up with the implications of the findings. I wrote a paper, and presented my research in both a poster and a powerpoint.

Along with these two main experiences, there were various other activities I participated in during the summer. The other interns and I read two books this summer, Flight Behavior, and Cigarette a Century and watched the documentary, Unnatural Causes. This documentary teaches about health disparities. Each week we would have a discussion about the books and movies and had computer lab where we learned how to use STATA. In addition, we had a tobacco regulatory science seminar, attended SURI events, and met with many Public Health professors and learned about various aspects of the Public Health field.

So What? – A personal response to your STEP experience, including feelings, thoughts, judgments, and what you have learned about yourself and your assumptions from what you did and how you reacted.

This STEP experience, has been a quintessential experience in my personal growth. This internship enabled me to explore my interest, in both health disparities and policy. I greatly enjoyed learning about health disparities and learning how public health initiatives, including tobacco policy, could lessen these disparities. In this way, my interest in social justice issues was reconfirmed.

Additionally, my interest in policy was greatly expanded due to this internship. I worked closely with my mentor who works on tobacco policy as well as learned generally about public health policy. Through these opportunities, I gained a sense of the large impact policy has on American lives. I saw how public health issues have been addressed through policy in the past and how it could be used to save and better countless lives. I was also able to learn more about the process in which policy is created and implemented. The potential of policy to make a tangible and good difference in American lives really inspires me.

Now What? – Discuss how the things you experienced and learned during your STEP experience will affect your academic, personal, and life goals moving forward.

My STEP experience will have a large influence on my future. Due to this experience, I know I enjoy research. Consequently, I will be continue to work with my mentor from the summer to pursue a research thesis at Ohio State. Moreover, I have gained a new perspective on my long term future. I am now considering law school as it would give me a good basis to work with policy.

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