Eleven democratic senators, led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), have penned a letter to Juul Labs, asking a sequence of questions across the product’s advertising and marketing, its effectiveness as a device to assist individuals stop smoking flamable cigarettes, gross sales figures, and maybe most significantly, extra data on the deal that gave Altria a minority stake in Juul Labs.
“The company marriage between two firms which have been essentially the most prolific at advertising and marketing extremely addictive nicotine merchandise to youngsters is alarming from a public well being standpoint and demonstrates, but once more, that JUUL is extra enthusiastic about padding its revenue margins than defending our nation’s youngsters,” writes Sen. Durbin within the letter.
Questions within the letter embody data round promoting and advertising and marketing spend for Juul merchandise, in addition to any adjustments which may have been made to Juul’s Youth Prevention Plan following the take care of Altria.
In late 2018, Juul introduced that it had offered a 35 p.c minority stake of the corporate to Altria Group, makers of Marlboro cigarettes, for $12.eight billion. The corporate mentioned that a partnership with Altria would assist Juul market and distribute to at present addicted grownup cigarette people who smoke.
Within the letter, the senators cite the American Coronary heart Affiliation, which referred to as the Altria/Juul deal “a match made in tobacco heaven.” Juul was already in scorching water over its product’s reputation amongst younger individuals, so it’s solely anticipated that a partnership with conventional Massive Tobacco would additional gas considerations amongst critics.
Extra from the letter:
JUUL’s determination to staff up with Altria, the mother or father firm of Philip Morris USA, can be dangerous information for youngsters contemplating that Altria has a protracted and sordid historical past of spending billions to entice youngsters to smoke by means of focused campaigns that deliberately lied in regards to the science and well being results from cigarettes. And their efforts have clearly paid off. Based on the CDC, Altria’s Marlboro cigarette continues to be the most well-liked cigarette model amongst youngsters in the US, with 48.eight p.c of highschool people who smoke preferring Marlboro cigarettes. Additional, the proportion of highschool people who smoke who smoked Marlboro cigarettes elevated dramatically between 2012 and 2016, by a whopping 27 p.c. Whereas JUUL has promised to handle youth vaping by means of its modest voluntary efforts, by accepting $12.eight billion from Altria—a tobacco large with such a disturbing file of misleading advertising and marketing to hook youngsters onto cigarettes—JUUL has misplaced what little remaining credibility the corporate had when it claimed to care in regards to the public well being.
A Juul Labs spokesperson had this to say in response to the letter:
We welcome the chance to share data relating to JUUL Labs’ dedication to curbing underage use of our merchandise whereas fulfilling our mission to eradicate flamable cigarettes, the primary explanation for preventable dying in our nation. We agree that firms corresponding to ours should step up with significant measures to restrict entry and enchantment of vapor merchandise to younger individuals. That’s precisely what we’ve finished, and we are going to do extra to fight teen use to avoid wasting the harm-reduction alternative for the 34 million grownup people who smoke in the US. Don’t take our phrase for it — have a look at our actions. As a part of our motion plan deployed in November 2018 to maintain JUUL merchandise out of the palms of youth, we stopped the sale of sure flavored JUULpods to conventional retail shops, strengthened our retail compliance and secret shopper program, enhanced our on-line age-verification, exited our Fb and Instagram accounts and are repeatedly working to take away inappropriate third-party social media content material. We help the FDA’s draft steerage limiting the sale of sure flavored merchandise, together with JUULpods, at stores and on-line, and can proceed to work with FDA, Congress, state Attorneys Common, native municipalities, and group organizations as a clear and accountable associate in combating underage use.
U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) joined Sen. Durbin in sending the letter. It comes only a month after the FDA proposed additional rules to the sale of flavored e-cig merchandise.
Juul has till April 25 to supply solutions and knowledge in response to the letter.