Hold Up, What? HBCU Makes Deal With e-Cigarette Brand

As students at Meharry Medical College, we are proud to be a part of a legacy of integrity that is centered on improving the health of underserved communities. For 143 years our institution has prioritized research aimed at eliminating health disparities. Now it seems that the next generation of Big Tobacco wants in on our legacy.

In a precarious deal, Meharry Medical College accepted $7.5 million from JUUL Labs, Inc. to conduct a longitudinal study on the long-term effects of e-cigarettes. It goes without saying that this presents an egregious conflict of interest.

Tobacco giant Altria, maker of the nation’s #1 cigarette brand Marlboro, owns a third of JUUL, and we know that tobacco-related research funded by the tobacco industry rarely tells the whole truth. For that reason, the scientific community does not deem such research credible. But there is more at stake here then the credibility of our research. The health of our people is at stake.

The short-term effects of e-cigarettes are now on the national stage for anyone to observe. When the battle against cigarettes was almost won, nicotine addiction rates among teens skyrocketed as if