Vape giant JUUL Labs is under investigation by a key House committee for its role in getting millions of U.S. minors addicted to nicotine.
The Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, chaired by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), has demanded JUUL turn over volumes of internal documents, including records detailing its advertising strategies, labeling decisions, its knowledge of the health effects its products have on youth, and details of its business arrangements with Big Tobacco company Altria, which recently bought a third of the company, and other potential investors.
The House investigation was prompted by reports that JUUL is mostly responsible for the epidemic of youth vaping. According to government studies, vaping among U.S. middle and high school students surged to alarming heights between 2017 and 2018, with more than 3.6 million kids currently using JUUL products and other vape brands. Researchers believe that the number of kids vaping will grow even further by the end of 2019.
In a letter addressed to JUUL CEO Kevin Burns, Rep. Krishnamoorthi warned that “the safety and well-being of America’s youth are not for sale.”
“I am extremely concerned about reports that JUUL’s high nicotine content is fueling addiction and that frequent JUUL use is sending kids across the country into rehab, some as young as 15.”
Mr. Burns has said that from the start, JUUL’s mission has been to give adults a better alternative to smoking regular cigarettes and that luring millions of kids into vaping was never its intent. Stanford University studies and other research has shown, however, that JUUL ran advertising and marketing campaigns that were “patently youth oriented.”
Some of the company’s supporters say its backing of proposed legislation to boost the legal smoking age to 21 demonstrates its commitment to beat back youth vaping. Those proposed laws, however, are full of language that relax some Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations and bar others from being passed, all to shield the tobacco and vaping industries and protect their ability to market to kids. That’s why the bills containing Big Tobacco protections are supported by tobacco-friendly legislators, such as Mitch McConnell.
JUUL has also teamed up with Big Tobacco company Altria – the world’s largest cigarette maker – and has launched what The Daily Beast calls “an unprecedented lobbying blitz” to stave off political efforts at all levels to impose tougher restrictions on its products.
Rep. Krishnamoorthi gave JUUL until June 21 to provide the documents the House committee requested as part of the investigation.
Beasley Allen lawyers Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett are handling cases involving injuries related to vaping. We are looking at cases involving adolescent addiction and injuries including seizures, strokes, lung problems, and cardiovascular problems related to the use of JUUL vaping devices. If you have these type cases, we would like to work with you.