The embattled vaping company recently hired Dr. Mark Rubinstein to be their medical director.
The criticism around vaping has been at an all-time high this year, with more and more parents convinced companies like Juul are leading their kids toward a life of smoking. Given how tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease around the globe, it’s understandable that parents would be worried.
However, a growing pile of peer-reviewed evidence strongly suggests vaping is one of the best harm reduction and smoking cessation tools we currently have at our disposal. So in an effort to help combat teenage vaping and provide legitimacy to their harm reduction claims, Juul Labs recently hired former UCSF researcher Dr. Mark Rubinstein to be their addiction expert.
This news has received quite varied reactions so far. The vaping community applauded the hire for placing more focus on preventing unintended impact on teens. Meanwhile, anti-vapers are suspicious of the move, claiming it’s mainly intended to hide the truth.
It’s unclear at this point what Dr. Rubinstein’s presence will mean for Juul Labs, but many of his former colleagues are confident he’ll carry out the job with integrity. Regardless, many are excited about the new perspective he’s bringing to the company.
Juul’s New Expert
Dr. Mark Rubinstein was recently hired by Juul Labs to be their new medical director. Dr. Rubinstein is well known for his research with the University of California on the dangers of nicotine on developing brains. In a statement going along with the hire, Juul Labs said they are committed to fighting underage vaping, and Dr. Rubinstein will provide invaluable guidance.
They said he would be in charge of research on the underage usage of their products, as well as lead the company-wide prevention policies and programs. Another integral part of his job will be to help foster a closer relationship between Juul Labs and smoking cessation groups, especially as the research continues to prove the value of vaping.
Not everyone was excited about the new hire however, with some public health experts seeing a long-used tactic by Big Tobacco instead of a tool for change. Big Tobacco companies were notorious for hiring outside experts to mitigate bad press when the dangers of cigarettes were first becoming common knowledge.
Meanwhile, people who actually know Dr. Rubinstein, such as Dr. Neal Benowitz, a former colleague of his at UC San Francisco, believes he’s the right man for the job. While the job change did surprise him, Dr. Benowitz said if anyone could help figure out the right way to reduce youth vaping, it’s Dr. Rubinstein.
Why Support Vaping?
While many people are still skeptical of the benefits of vaping, there’s a continuously growing pile of peer-reviewed evidence which proves vaping is an extremely valuable harm reduction and smoking cessation tool. For instance, a report out of the University of Louisville tested all the most common smoking cessation tools and methods before determining vaping is more likely to be successful than anything else, even prescription drugs.
Other reports have taken a look at the so-called teenage vaping “epidemic” and found that fears are quite overblown. In fact, a summary of over 60,000 teens conducted by Action on Smoking and Health concluded only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever vaping more than a few times. This means even fewer could be ending up smokers because of vaping.
The harm reduction value of e-cigarettes has a ton of solid research suggesting vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. But even more impressive is the report from the Journal of Aerosol Sciences which concluded the excess lifetime cancer risk of a smoker is around 57,000 times higher than a demographically similar vaper.
Not only all that, but Juul Labs themselves have done a lot of voluntary work to fight underage vaping. This includes pledging over $30 million for vaping research, shutting down social media platforms, and even launching ad campaigns focused on educating parents on how to tell if their child has started vaping.
It’s a big deal that Juul Labs hired such a respected doctor to lead their research and policymaking. While many legislators are still skeptical of Juul Labs and their true motives, taking a look at what they’ve already done without being forced is an excellent place to start.
Without support and guidance from someone like Dr. Rubinstein, it would only become increasingly difficult for Juul to prove their value. While it may already be hard for vaping companies to distinguish themselves from Big Tobacco, it’s only liable to get worse without expert guidance.
That’s why we should be celebrating this news and spreading it to smokers in our lives. Hopefully, with Dr. Rubinstein at the helm, Juul Labs will be able to prove once and for all that vaping is an entirely different process than smoking and ought to be treated as such.
What do you think about Juul Labs hiring an expert to lead their policymaking? Why do you think people are so quick to equate vaping and smoking? What’s the best way to support vaping moving forward? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.