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E-Cigarette Maker's Hire of Researcher Stirs Opposition

August 05, 2019

The latest hire by the nation's largest manufacturer of electronic cigarettes has caused a stir in the research and advocacy communities. Juul Labs has hired as its medical director Mark Rubinstein, MD, a researcher who has been outspoken in the past about the dangers of e-cigarette use among youths.

The hiring of Rubinstein, formerly with the University of California San Francisco's (UCSF's) Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, was first reported by Politico. The Sacramento Bee reported this week that Juul has said Rubinstein will guide the company's youth prevention programs and policy positions and will oversee research on underage vaping, but the company would not make him available for a media interview.

Rubinstein's hire comes at a time when the company is seeking to provide evidence that would dissuade the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from a significant crackdown on e-cigarette sales. Others in the research community have been critical of the hire.

“Even if you believe in harm reduction, to go work for a tobacco company … to me goes against everything that anybody doing control should believe in,” said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a Stanford University professor who helped to train Rubinstein during his time at UCSF.

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