Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, recently released a supplemental memo based on approximately 55,000 non-public documents JUUL Labs, Inc. produced to the Subcommittee and the Massachusetts Attorney General in response to the Subcommittee’s investigation into vaping, launched in June. The memo states:
The Subcommittee found that: JUUL deployed a sophisticated program to enter schools and convey its messaging directly to teenage children; JUUL also targeted teenagers and children, as young as eight years old, in summer camps and public out-of-school programs; and JUUL recruited thousands of online ‘influencers’ to market to teens.
Documents obtained by the Subcommittee show that JUUL operated a division, referred to internally as “Youth Prevention and Education,” and this group recruited schools into a program through which JUUL presented its programming to students. Documents obtained by the Subcommittee show that the schools received payment for these services.
For example, the co-founder of Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes testified to the content of one such presentation in school, stating that no parents or teachers were in the room, and JUUL communicated that the product was “totally safe.” The witness also testified that the presenter even demonstrated and recommended that a nicotine-addicted student use JUUL.
The memo also reveals that JUUL targeted teenagers and children by buying access to them through public, out-of-school programs. Documents show that JUUL paid $134,000 to set up a five-week summer camp for 80 children through a charter school. Participants in the summer camp were “recruited from grades 3 through 12… .” JUUL would provide the programming for a “holistic health education program,” helping “student participants create a personal ‘healthy lifestyle plan’… engaging low-income youth at risk of making poor health decisions.”
Documents also show that JUUL was aware that its programs were “eerily similar” to those used by large cigarette makers, and even internal executives raised concerns about their work in schools. The subcommittee’s investigation also found that JUUL used a sophisticated and high-cost “influencer” program to promote online marketing to youth specifically to “curate and identify 280 influencers in LA/NY to seed JUUL product” and to secure social media “buzzmakers” with “a minimum of 30,000 followers,” to attend launch events and to develop “influencer engagement efforts to establish a network of creatives to leverage as loyalists for JUUL.”
The second Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee hearing examining JUUL’s role in youth nicotine addiction epidemic features testimony from two JUUL Labs representatives – including the co-founder – and Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.
The use of JUUL and other vaping devices has reached epidemic levels, especially among teenagers and young adults. JUUL and other vape device manufacturers fueled this epidemic by targeting and deceiving youth and adolescents with misleading social media marketing and sweet, fruit-flavored pods containing high levels of nicotine. The use of these products has been associated with numerous adverse health effects, such as seizures, nicotine addiction, nicotine poisoning, breathing problems, behavioral and psychological problems, and other serious health conditions. Beasley Allen lawyers Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett are representing folks harmed by these devices.
This story appears in the September 2019 issue of The Jere Beasley Report. For more like this, visit the Report online and subscribe.