Dr. Valerie B. Yerger
Valerie B. Yerger, ND is Professor in Health Policy at the University of California, San Francisco. She is clinically trained as a naturopathic doctor and licensed midwife. For over twenty years, Dr. Yerger’s research and advocacy work have focused on framing the disproportionate burden of tobacco among marginalized communities as a social injustice and informing public health policies to effectively reach and engage these communities. Her research of previously secret tobacco documents uncovered the tobacco industry’s relationships with African American leadership groups, the accumulation of nicotine in tissues containing melanin, the disproportionate marketing of menthol cigarettes in inner city communities, and tobacco companies’ in-house research on the use of menthol as an additive in cigarettes. Dr. Yerger has made significant contributions to understanding factors that contribute to tobacco use among disadvantaged groups. She brings a novel focus on the demand side of the tobacco epidemic that frames the social and political determinants of health as underlying barriers to tobacco prevention and smoking cessation. She is certified as an Emotional Brain Training “Coach,” a new brain-based approach for addressing stress overload and equipping people with the skills to protect themselves from the harms of cortisol and other stress hormones. Dr. Yerger is a founding member of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, which spearheaded the national movement to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products. Her substantial experience in tobacco control, community engagement, policy leadership, and training are all valued skills, reflected in the number of awards she has received, including the UCSF Chancellor Award for Public Service, the State of California Tobacco Control Program’s Carol M. Russell Award for Leadership and Vision in Tobacco Control, the Public Health Law Center’s Game Changer Award, and the Truth Initiative’s Sybil G. Jacobs Outstanding Use of Tobacco Industry Documents.