2011 Innovative Learning through ETDs Award
University of Waterloo, Canada
In his doctoral dissertation, Ryan Kennedy designed his entire Ph.D. project to guide and support development and implementation of outdoor smoking bans. The study focused on a ground breaking municipal ban on smoking in outdoor spaces in a community in the Ontario, Canada region. It was designed to provide other jurisdictions with the evidence needed to make the case for, and to implement, such a ban.
To promulgate the policy, he created a high quality video – despite a very modest budget. The video was carefully designed to support advocacy and political decision making. To ensure it would reach advocates and public health officials in Canada, Ryan distributed the video through networks linked to the Canadian Cancer Society and other influential tobacco control organizations. He also disseminated it internationally through the World Health Organization, using channels that reach 171 countries implementing the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control. To supplement this, Ryan has conferred with public health leaders contemplating implementation of outdoor bans in jurisdictions beyond Canada (e.g., New York City, Australia). In Canada, he has worked with community leaders (e.g., in Ottawa, Ontario) to conduct outdoor air quality monitoring on patios at pubs.
This work has documented the need for bans to protect the public against exposure to second hand smoke, using local data that has triggered media stories and support for such bans. This dissertation provides a model for other students who are seeking to do studies that not only advance knowledge, but provide societal betterment. The “Woodstock” video is available on a number of websites worldwide.
Ryan is now a Scientist at the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, with an adjunct appointment in the Center for Global Tobacco Control, Harvard School of Public Health.