FOR THE WEEK OF SEP. 19, 2022
Juul, accused of 'relentlessly' targeting teens, will pay $439 million to end vaping legal case
Vaping and e-cigarettes emerged in 2006. Spot a product or service in news coverage that didn’t exist a dozen years ago.
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Juul Labs, fighting to continue its e-cigarette business in the United States, recently agreed to pay $438.5 million to settle an investigation by 33 states. Attorneys general across the country challenged advertising and sales practices that they say encouraged underage vaping. After youth vaping rates soared in 2018-19, the company dropped fruity flavors and now sells only menthol and tobacco-flavored pods (also known as cartridges). It no longer advertises.
Some critics want the items banned for everyone, including an estimated 3 million adult users in America. "The efforts of attorneys general will succeed only if the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] takes actions to remove from market the products that are causing the problem," says Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The federal agency in June issued an order banning Juul sales, which the company is appealing. "We believe that once the FDA does a complete review of all of the science and evidence presented, . . . we should receive marketing authorization," says Juul, a San Francisco company partly owned by a large tobacco firm originally named Philip Morris. Dozens of smaller vape makers are suing the regulatory agency over its denial of their applications to enter the market.
Until three years ago, Juul used young models, social media and sample giveaways to attract teens, critics say. "They relentlessly marketed vaping products to underage youth, manipulated their chemical composition to be palatable to inexperienced users, employed an inadequate age verification process, and misled consumers about the nicotine content and addictiveness of its products," says Atty. Gen. William Tong of Connecticut, leader of the multi-state inquiry. Vape pods have a small amount of nicotine, an addictive chemical in cigarettes. Though teen use has dropped significantly, a 2021 federal survey showed that high school and middle school students who regularly vape named Juul as one of the top brands they use.
State official says: "Juul's cynically calculated advertising campaigns created a new generation of nicotine addicts. . . . It continues to be an epidemic. It continues to be a huge problem." – William Tong, Connecticut attorney general
Company say: "We remain focused on the future as we work to fulfill our mission to transition adult smokers away from cigarettes – the number one cause of preventable death – while combating underage use." – Juul statement, Sept. 6
Mother says: "No amount of money can erase the harm caused by Juul’s targeting of and marketing to teens whose use of the company’s . . . products led many kids to suffer severe nicotine addiction and physical harm." -- Meredith Berkman, co-founder of Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes
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