Dr. Joel L. Nitzkin is a senior fellow in tobacco policy for the R Street Institute.

Joel is a public health physician, board certified in preventive medicine as his medical specialty. He has been a local health director, a state health director and president of two national public health organizations.

Since the mid-1990s, Joel has been in the private practice of public health as a health policy consultant. In this capacity, he has taken on a number of research and teaching assignments for federal, state and local public health agencies; assisted with accreditation of a managed care organization; and done substantial expert witness work related to communicable disease control, quality of health care, and tobacco control.

In 2007, while serving as co-chair of the Tobacco Control Task Force of the American Association of Public Health Physicians, Joel played a lead role in exploring policy options for reducing tobacco-attributable illness, death and property damage in the United States. It was this effort that focused his attention on tobacco harm reduction as a potential life-saving measure and on other problematic aspects of current American tobacco control policy.

Over the next four years, Joel worked with and through the AAPHP, at his own expense, to advocate for consideration of THR within the public health community and to secure positive action on what he perceived to be related problematic issues. Finding these efforts to be extremely frustrating, Joel subsequently partnered with R Street as organizations independent of government, major pharmaceutical firms and the tobacco industry, yet interested in THR as a scientifically sound and market-oriented alternative to selected aspects of current American tobacco control policy.

In 2012, serving as a volunteer with a modicum of support to offset travel and other costs, Joel has made presentations on THR and related issues to a variety of tobacco industry, medical, public health and state legislative audiences. He has also taken action to place THR on the agenda of the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association.