US senators slam Juul for partnering with Big Tobacco, allegedly funding anti-regulation lawmakers and ‘getting a generation hooked on tobacco’
- Popular e-cigarette company Juul has been widely blamed for fueling the youth vaping epidemic, largely through its marketing processes
- Last year it promised to make efforts to curb adolescent use of its products
- But it also accepted $13 billion from the Big Tobacco company behind Marlboro cigarettes – the most popular combustible cigarette among children
- Juul also allegedly donated money to lawmakers who asked the Trump Administration to ‘pump the breaks’ on e-cig regulation
- Eleven US senators are requesting the company turn over documentation of its marketing practices and financial dealings
Eleven US senators co-signed a letter to Juul demanding the company to reveal the tactics it used to target American youth with its marketing campaigns.
Led by Senator Richard Durbin, of Illinois, the group of lawmakers is also accusing the market-dominating company of contradicting its promises to address the vaping epidemic by partnering with Big Tobacco company Altria.
Altria, which sells Marlboro cigarettes – long the favorite brand of children and teens – invested almost $13 billion in Juul last year.
The New York Times reported that Juul had made financial contributions to politicians that pushed the Trump administration to ‘pump the breaks on [new FDA] regulatory efforts’ on e-cigarettes.
The senators’ letter, released Monday, requests that Juul explain its advertising tactics and finally come clean about its business practices, which it has kept largely secret.
Lawmakers and public health officials suspect that ads like this one were designed by Juul to target children and teenagers. Now, 11 senators are demanding the company turn over documents on its marketing and business practices
Last year, over 3.6 million middle and high school children said they used e-cigarettes.
Since the introduction of the Juul, vaping has surged.
It is now up by 78 percent over rates from a decade ago.
Juul’s discreet USB-like design makes it easy for teens and children to hide and its potent nicotine content gets them hooked, health officials say.
But lawmakers and scientists alike suspect that the real source of its power over young people has been in its marketing and business practices.
Early ads were pervasive on social media channels like Instagram and often featured young, attractive models and pop-y color schemes.
In the ads’ wake and the explosive popularity of the Juul, the Food and Drug Administration raided the company’s headquarters, lawmakers called for it to turn over documents and pull the ads.
Last year, politicians and public health officials demanded that Juul make lower nicotine-content pods for its devices and provide evidence that it was trying to combat what has been labeled the ‘youth vaping epidemic.’
Now, the 11 senators who wrote to the company say that Juul seems to have done quite the opposite, noting that its devices are more popular than ever among children and teenagers.
Juul accepted nearly $13 billion from cigarette giant Altria, forming what the American Heart Association called ‘a tobacco match made in heaven,’ as the senators’ letter noted.
‘The corporate marriage between two companies that been the most prolific at marketing highly addictive nicotine products to children is alarming from a public health standpoint and demonstrates, yet again, that JUUL is more interested in padding its profit margins than protecting our nation’s children,’ the senators wrote.
‘While JUUL has promised to address its modest voluntary efforts…[partnering with Altria] – a tobacco giant with a disturbing record of deceptive marketing to hook children onto cigarettes – JUUL has lost what little remaining credibility the company had when it claimed to care about public health.’
The New York Times also reported that the company donated money to several legislators who penned a letter to President Trump begging him to interfere with the FDA’s efforts to tighten regulations on the e-cigarette industry.
Senator Durbin and his co-signers are demanding to know when and how much Juul contributed to the lawmakers in question.
‘While you and your investors may be perfectly content with hooking an entire new generation of children on your tobacco products in order to increase your profit margins, we will not rest until your dangerous products are out of the hands of our nation’s children,’ the senators wrote in conclusion.