Dr. Valerie B. Yerger is an Associate Professor of Health Policy in the Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences and in the Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education. Dr. Yerger, who is trained in naturopathic medicine and licensed in California as a naturopathic doctor, brings to the CTCRE a novel focus on tobacco usage as a social justice issue that disproportionately affects marginalized communities. Dr. Yerger incorporates tobacco industry documents research into her work. She has years of experience researching and analyzing tobacco documents, examining specifically the tobacco industry’s relationships with African American leadership groups and the tobacco companies’ marketing of menthol cigarettes in inner-city communities. Since 2004, Dr. Yerger has coordinated the CTCRE annual tobacco documents workshop. Since 2007, Dr. Yerger has successfully secured funding to offer diversity scholarships to tobacco control advocates from the generally under-represented communities, so they may travel to San Francisco to attend the workshop. Dr. Yerger initiated the research on melanin's potential role in nicotine exposure, nicotine dependence, and smoking behavior. Melanin is the primary determinant of skin color in human beings, and tissues containing melanin have been shown to accumulate nicotine. This is exciting research that has led to collaboration with other national and international investigators. Dr. Yerger's research interests also include investigating ways African Americans may increase their ability to quit smoking and remain tobacco-free by reframing tobacco and tobacco industry targeted marketing as social justice issues and utilizing a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach. Dr. Yerger is part of the UCSF team invited by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to search the Legacy tobacco documents archives for tobacco industry research on menthol cigarettes, leading to a number of publications in a special supplement of a leading specialty journal. Dr. Yerger provided expert testimony of the findings from this research to the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC), who then provided guidance to the FDA on the regulation of menthol in tobacco products.
Honors and Awards
Sybil G. Jacobs Award for Outstanding Use of Tobacco Industry Documents, American Legacy Foundation, 2012
Health Disparities Scholar Award, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, 2009-2010
Health Disparities Scholar Award, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, 2006-2008
Distinguished Alumni Award, Bastyr University, 2004
Health Disparities Scholar Award, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, 2003-2005
Effects of cigarette prices on intention to quit, quit attempts, and successful cessation among African American smokers.
The Association of Menthol Cigarette Use With Quit Attempts, Successful Cessation, and Intention to Quit Across Racial/Ethnic Groups in the United States.
Letter by Lempert et al Regarding Article, "Menthol and Nonmenthol Cigarette Smoking: All-Cause Deaths, Cardiovascular Disease Deaths, and Other Causes of Death Among Blacks and Whites".
"Tired of watching customers walk out the door because of the smoke": a content analysis of media coverage of voluntarily smokefree restaurants and bars.
Smoking, Work Stress, and Barriers to Participation in HMO Smoking Cessation Treatment Among Transit Workers: Focus Group Results.
Smoking cessation among transit workers: beliefs and perceptions among an at-risk occupational group.
Evaluating the implementation process of a citywide smoke-free multiunit housing ordinance: insights from community stakeholders.
Older smokers could be the strongest supporters for U.S. government regulation of tobacco: a focus group study.
Combining community participatory research with a randomized clinical trial: the Protecting the Hood Against Tobacco (PHAT) smoking cessation study.
Racialized geography, corporate activity, and health disparities: tobacco industry targeting of inner cities.
"It's like Tuskegee in reverse": a case study of ethical tensions in institutional review board review of community-based participatory research.
Taking it to the streets: responses of African American young adults to internal tobacco industry documents.