Joelle Lester, J.D., directs the Public Health Law Center’s commercial tobacco control work, leading a team of 20 attorneys and policy analysts working to support tobacco control policy change throughout the United States. The Center does this by providing legal technical assistance to public health professionals and advocates, developing resources on the most effective legal and policy measures to reduce the burden of disease and death caused by tobacco use in the United States, and providing strategic leadership around bold policy options to end the tobacco epidemic. Joelle coordinates the tobacco control team’s provision of legal technical assistance; oversees preparation of friend-of-the court (amicus curiae) briefs in key cases; coordinates litigation support to city and county attorneys, state attorneys general; assists with development of educational materials; and provides educational and training presentations at state, regional, and national conferences. In addition, Joelle oversees the Center’s efforts to convene national thought leaders around bold policy options to end the tobacco epidemic. Prior to joining the Public Health Law Center, Joelle worked as a litigation associate at the Minneapolis firm of McGrann Shea Carnival Straughn & Lamb, Chartered. Before attending law school, Joelle was a grassroots organizer, organizing director and executive director of the Oregon Student Association, a non-profit higher education advocacy group. Joelle also worked as a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, advocating for public K–12 education.
Carol McGruder is experienced in the fields of tobacco control, transnational tobacco issues, public policy, social marketing, media advocacy, parent training, health education and community capacity building. She is a highly-respected trainer, presenter, community advocate and program designer with strong interpersonal skills. Ms. McGruder is a seasoned veteran of California’s tobacco control experience and has served as an advisor in many capacities, most recently as a founding member and co-chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC).
Matthew L. Myers is president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a leader in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its devastating consequences in the United States and around the world. In 1996, Mr. Myers helped to found the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and has been with the Campaign since its inception. Initially, he served as its Executive Vice President and Legal Counsel and oversaw the Campaign’s legal and advocacy efforts. On January 1, 2000, Mr. Myers became the Campaign’s President. In his position at the Campaign Mr. Myers helped to lead the Campaign’s effort to defend FDA’s assertion of jurisdiction over cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products in 1996. Mr Myers then served as a close advisor to the State Attorneys General in the 1990s when they sued the tobacco industry. He participated in the 1996 negotiations that led to the first ever settlement with a tobacco company, Liggett and Myers, an agreement that broke the tobacco industry’s unity and resulted in the release of a massive amount of previously secret tobacco industry documents. In 1997, at the request of the State Attorneys General and the White House, Mr. Myers participated in the negotiations that led to the unprecedented agreement between the tobacco industry and the states in June 1997. He then served as one of the leading spokespersons for the legislative debate related to that settlement that followed in Congress. Mr. Myers subsequently advised a number of State Attorneys General during the negotiations that led to the Master Settlement Agreement in 1998 and oversaw the Campaign’s effort to get the states to use Master Settlement Agreement funds for comprehensive tobacco control. Since that time under Mr. Myers’ leadership the Campaign has been a leader in the effort to raise tobacco taxes, expand protection against secondhand smoke and fund effective comprehensive tobacco control programs at the state level. In 1999 Mr. Myers was appointed to serve on the first tobacco advisory committee to the Director General of the World Health Organization. Mr. Myers and the Campaign later fully participated in the negotiations that led to the adoption of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and also helped found the Framework Convention Alliance. In 2000, Mr. Myers was named by President Clinton to co-chair a Presidential Commission to develop a proposal to both address the economic problems being experienced by tobacco farmers and their communities and at the same time promote the public health through a reduction in tobacco use. In 2006 the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids received the Luther terry Award for its leadership on global tobacco control. Under Mr. Myers leadership the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids later led the effort that resulted in 2009 in the US Food and Drug Administration being given authority over the manufacture, marketing and sale of tobacco products, including a requirement that cigarette packages carry graphic health warnings covering the top 50% of the front and back of all cigarette packages. The Campaign under Mr. Myers’ leadership was selected by Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2006 to become one of its lead participants in the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use in Low and Middle Income Countries. As a result the Campaign has been actively involved in tobacco control efforts in low and middle income countries all over the world. In 2010 Mr. Myers and the Campaign partnered with Uruguay in the defense of Uruguay’s international trade dispute with Philip Morris International before the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. In 2011 Mr. Myers was selected to serve on the Civil Society Task Force to advise the President of the General Assembly of the UN in conjunction with the UN High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases. Over the last 25 years, Mr. Myers has participated in virtually every major US tobacco-related legislative effort and has worked with state tobacco prevention advocates and officials around the country. In the 1980’s he worked on the successful legislative efforts to raise the tax on tobacco products in 1981, to eliminate the subsidy for tobacco growers, to adopt new warning labels for cigarettes; to ban the advertising of smokeless tobacco products on radio and TV, to require warning labels on smokeless tobacco products and to ban smoking on commercial airlines. Mr. Myers began his tobacco control work in 1980 when he joined the Federal Trade Commission and was responsible for the agency’s tobacco-related activity. Under his leadership the FTC in 1981 produced a report that led Congress to strengthen the warning labels on cigarettes and also initiated litigation against Brown and Williamson for deceptive low tar claims concerning Barclay cigarettes. Later he was named the acting Deputy Assistant Director of the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices. In 2004, the Harvard School of Public Health bestowed its highest award, the Julius B. Richmond award, on Mr. Myers for his work as an advocate in preventing tobacco industry marketing to children. On October 26, 2007, the American Cancer Society honored Mr. Myers with its highest award, The Medal of Honor, for his work in the fight against cancer and childhood tobacco addiction.
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