KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 — A congressional investigation into e-cigarette maker, Juul Labs Inc, is currently underway in the United States.
It is part of efforts to understand the role of the company in “the youth vaping epidemic” which is seeing kids as young as 9 and up to 17 years of age, taking up vaping, supposedly as a result of marketing efforts which targeted youth.
The House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy saw the presentation of contracts, memos and internal emails from the company.
CNN reported that Juul allegedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in youth focused programming. These included programmes “to enter schools and convey its messaging directly to teenage children” and summer camps for them.
The e-cigarette makers has also been found to pay thousands of dollars to schools which would “use the JUUL sponsored curriculum” during classes. This allowed “Juul consultants” to observe classes.
In a now-public email, a Juul employee expressed an opinion that the company’s youth prevention efforts were “eerily similar” to those from “Big Tobacco.” These were efforts previously used by tobacco companies to fight back against regulation and “fight taxes, clean-indoor-air laws, and marketing restrictions worldwide.”
This opinion was echoed by members of the committee.
Juul’s statement indicated that the campaigns “were part of our short-lived Education and Youth Prevention Program which was ended in September 2018 after its purpose — to educate youth on the dangers of nicotine addiction — was clearly misconstrued.”
Another internal document provided by the subcommittee showed that the e-cigarette maker “targeted 1,500 current smokers turned JUUL influencers to spread the word.” An indicated goal was “introducing JUUL to over 1.5M people” by getting the device “into the hands” of 12,500 influencers.
According to the US government, there has been a massive increase of 78 percent observed in the use of e-cigarettes by high school students from 2017 to 2018.
Juul is 35 percent owned by Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc.