Research Summary

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.


University of California, Berkeley, B.S., 06/1981, Natural Resources
John F. Kennedy University, M.A., 06/1985, Health Education
Bastyr University, N.D., 06/1992, Naturopathic Medicine
University of California, San Francisco, Fellowship, 05/2005, Health Policy Research

Honors & 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

Selected Publications

  1. Watkins SL, Pieper F, Chaffee BW, Yerger VB, Ling PM, Max W. Flavored Tobacco Product Use Among Young Adults by Race and Ethnicity: Evidence From the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study. J Adolesc Health. 2022 May 09.  View on PubMed
  2. Romeo-Stuppy K, Huber L, Toebes B, Yerger V, Senkubuge F. Tobacco industry: a barrier to social justice. Tob Control. 2022 03; 31(2):352-354.  View on PubMed
  3. Soto C, Ramos G, Martinez D, Moerner L, Salinas E, Battle R, Yerger V. A qualitative assessment of the perceptions and attitudes towards commercial tobacco policies and education among tribal communities in California. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2022 01 02; 48(1):49-57.  View on PubMed
  4. Yerger V. What more evidence is needed? Remove menthol cigarettes from the marketplace-now. Tob Control. 2021 Sep 16.  View on PubMed
  5. Mills SD, McGruder CO, Yerger VB. The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council: Advocating for a menthol cigarette ban in San Francisco, California. Tob Control. 2021 12; 30(e2):e150-e153.  View on PubMed
  6. Malone RE, Yerger VB. GOOD TROUBLE. Tob Control. 2020 09; 29(5):481-482.  View on PubMed
  7. Keeler C, Max W, Yerger VB, Yao T, Wang Y, Ong MK, Sung HY. Effects of Cigarette Prices on Intention to Quit, Quit Attempts, and Successful Cessation Among African American Smokers. Nicotine Tob Res. 2020 04 17; 22(4):522-531.  View on PubMed
  8. Choi K, Chen-Sankey JC, Merianos AL, McGruder C, Yerger V. Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Subsequent Academic Performance Among U.S. Youth. Am J Prev Med. 2020 06; 58(6):776-782.  View on PubMed
  9. Keeler C, Max W, Yerger V, Yao T, Ong MK, Sung HY. The Association of Menthol Cigarette Use With Quit Attempts, Successful Cessation, and Intention to Quit Across Racial/Ethnic Groups in the United States. Nicotine Tob Res. 2017 Nov 07; 19(12):1450-1464.  View on PubMed
  10. King G, Moolchan ET, Bendel RB, Yerger VB. Tanning Capacity and Nicotine Dependence Among African Americans. J Natl Med Assoc. 2018 Aug; 110(4):358-366.  View on PubMed
  11. Yao T, Ong MK, Max W, Keeler C, Wang Y, Yerger VB, Sung HY. Responsiveness to cigarette prices by different racial/ethnic groups of US adults. Tob Control. 2018 05; 27(3):301-309.  View on PubMed
  12. Lempert LK, Yerger V, Glantz SA. 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". Circulation. 2016 Aug 30; 134(9):e119-20.  View on PubMed
  13. McDaniel PA, Offen N, Yerger V, Forsyth S, Malone RE. "Tired of watching customers walk out the door because of the smoke": a content analysis of media coverage of voluntarily smokefree restaurants and bars. BMC Public Health. 2015 Aug 08; 15:761.  View on PubMed
  14. Carol B. Cunradi, Roland S. Moore, Robynn S. Battle, Valerie B. Yerger. Smoking, Work Stress, and Barriers to Participation in HMO Smoking Cessation Treatment Among Transit Workers: Focus Group Results. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health. 2015 Jul 3; 30(3):272-286.  View on PubMed
  15. Battle RS, Cunradi CB, Moore RS, Yerger VB. Smoking cessation among transit workers: beliefs and perceptions among an at-risk occupational group. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2015 May 13; 10:19.  View on PubMed
  16. Yerger VB, Battle RS, Moore RS. Evaluating the implementation process of a citywide smoke-free multiunit housing ordinance: insights from community stakeholders. Am J Public Health. 2014 Oct; 104(10):1889-91.  View on PubMed
  17. McDaniel PA, Offen N, Yerger VB, Malone RE. "A breath of fresh air worth spreading": media coverage of retailer abandonment of tobacco sales. Am J Public Health. 2014 Mar; 104(3):562-9.  View on PubMed
  18. Yerger VB, Cataldo JK, Malone RE. Older smokers could be the strongest supporters for U.S. government regulation of tobacco: a focus group study. Tob Induc Dis. 2013 Aug 17; 11(1):17.  View on PubMed
  19. Malone RE, McGruder C, Froelicher ES, Yerger VB. Being part of something: transformative outcomes of a community-based participatory study. Health Promot Pract. 2013 Mar; 14(2):205-12.  View on PubMed
  20. McCandless PM, Yerger VB, Malone RE. Quid pro quo: tobacco companies and the black press. Am J Public Health. 2012 Apr; 102(4):739-50.  View on PubMed

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