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For a startup which topped a $10 billion valuation four times faster than Facebook, JUUL Labs quickly went on to nearly triple its value after Altria Group became a minority partner last December.     

Now, with near-term plans to enhance its international footprint in Asia and Europe, JUUL anticipates being valued at approximately $45 billion in short order.  

With that stack of cash – and growing rapidly for the company which possesses more than 70 percent of the U.S. vaping market – how should the public react to the (measly?) $7.5 million JUUL announced last month it will donate to Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., for research on how vaping affects minors?

Is it enough?

According to a statement by Meharry President and CEO Dr. James Hildreth, JUUL’s grant to the Meharry Center for the Study of Social Determinants of Health is an attempt to take “sole ownership of the sponsored research and complete control over (the) publication of the findings.”    

Hildreth told CBS News the grant gives the San Francisco-based company “full autonomy” of the study to help create additional data on one of society’s most disturbing health trends: teen vaping.    

JUUL has taken the brunt of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s criticism for marketing the potentially addictive products to minors. Recent research by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated eight out of every 10 high school and middle school students in the U.S. were regularly exposed to advertising.  

Meharry’s main focus, Hildreth added, was to help federal agencies better understand the “rising prevalence of e-cigarettes, including how they affect young people.”   

“The grant from Juul Labs gives Meharry the unique opportunity to take the lead on a new line of fully independent research in this critical area of public health,” Hildreth said. “Smoking has had disproportionately negative effects on minority, and particularly African-American, populations for decades. At Meharry, we have been on the front lines of treating those impacted by this scourge and see firsthand how smoking can destroy lives. Our goal is to help set a new course for education, prevention and policy surrounding the use of tobacco and e-cigarettes.”   

That new course could benefit from more than a (measly?) $7.5 million. That being said, we’re interested in seeing what the scientists learn from this new JUUL teen vaping study. Our guess is nothing Earth-shattering.

Is it enough?

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