J. Lee Westmaas, PhD

Scientific Director, Behavioral Research


J. Lee Westmaas investigates predictors of smoking and quitting in populations at risk for tobacco dependence. His research focuses on (i) the role of social support processes and other social, psychological, biological, and environmental influences in helping smokers quit, and (ii) the development of cessation interventions that use technology to increase their reach and effectiveness in populations at high risk of dependence. 


Westmaas’ research encompasses the biological, psychological, and social influences on tobacco dependence and on barriers to quitting. He is particularly interested in the role of social support and how it can be harnessed to increase quit attempts and the probability of cessation. Westmaas’ work on tobacco dependence focuses on the role of emotion (depression and anxiety), personality traits, perceptions of risk or self-efficacy for quitting, as well as contextual and environmental influences such as education level, stress, access to health care and cessation services, and tobacco regulation through smoke-free laws and taxes. 

His research is used to develop and test tailored interventions that take advantage of existing digital tools such as email, smartphone apps, and texts to provide information and support to assist smokers’ quit attempts. He aims to reduce disparities in smoking prevalence and cessation. 


  • Post-doctoral Fellow, H Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, 1999
  • Post-doctoral Fellow, Addiction Research Foundation, 1998
  • PhD, Health Psychology, University of California- Irvine, 1996
  • MA, Social Ecology, University of California- Irvine, 1994


For a full list of Westmaas’ publications, visit Google Scholar.