Senators' scathing letter to Juul demands answers about tactics targeting youth, ties to Big Tobacco

Leading e-cigarette company Juul Labs is under the microscope again, with 11 senators demanding answers from the company at the center of the youth vaping "e...

Posted: Apr 8, 2019 12:16 PM

Leading e-cigarette company Juul Labs is under the microscope again, with 11 senators demanding answers from the company at the center of the youth vaping "epidemic" whose business practices have been shrouded in "immense secrecy," the senators said in a letter to Juul on Monday.

They are requesting data, plans and other information from Juul related to its popularity among youth and its relationship with tobacco giant Altria, which invested nearly $13 billion in the company late last year.

The Altria deal signaled that Juul is "more interested in padding its profit margins than protecting our nation's children," says the letter, signed by Democrats including Dick Durbin of Illinois, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

"Altria has a long and sordid history of spending billions to entice children to smoke through targeted campaigns that intentionally lied about the science and health effects from cigarettes," the letter says.

The move comes as Dr. Scott Gottlieb -- who took a strong stance against underage vaping as commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration -- stepped down Friday, prompting questions about how aggressively the agency will continue to pursue the issue under new leadership.

"Incoming Acting FDA Commissioner [Dr. Ned] Sharpless must, on day one, work to protect our nation's children from a lifetime of nicotine addiction by putting the full force of FDA behind this effort," Durbin said in a statement.

"An epidemic must be dealt with immediately, not months or years from now," he said.

The senators are pressing Juul for detailed information on its sales and ad spending; how the company plans to keep underage people from seeing its ads or buying its products; new business dealings that emerged after the Altria announcement; how the company plans to verify ages and prevent people from ordering in bulk online; and what financial ties the company has to the "conservative-leaning and anti-regulation organizations" that wrote to President Trump in February, hoping to hamper the FDA's crackdown.

In addition, the lawmakers requested a complete list of "social media influencers" paid by Juul to publicize its brand. A CNN investigation in December shed light on Juul's influencer program and identified several of the social media users who participated. At the time, a representative for Juul said that the company had abandoned that program, describing it as small and short-lived. But now the senators want to know whether the company conducted this business in line with Federal Trade Commission regulations.

CNN has reached out to Juul for comment on the letter, which was addressed to its CEO, Kevin Burns. The senators requested a response by April 25.

Juul has maintained that its products are intended to convert adult former smokers to what it describes as a less-harmful alternative. It says it has taken steps to curb underage use, as well. But in the wake of the Altria deal, the senators say, Juul "has lost what little remaining credibility the company had when it claimed to care about the public health."

The FDA revealed in November that vaping had increased nearly 80% among high schoolers and 50% among middle schoolers since the year before. Public health experts say that Juul has largely propelled the rise, holding about 75% of the e-cigarette market in the United States.

Experts worry that e-cigarettes could put kids' developing brains at risk, get them hooked on nicotine early in life and be a gateway to smoking and other drugs.

The FDA has been conducting its own investigation into e-cigarette companies in an effort to uncover whether they are marketing products illegally and outside the agency's compliance policy. The agency also conducted a surprise inspection of Juul's San Francisco headquarters in October, seizing thousands of documents, many of which relate to its sales and marketing practices.

Most of the same senators also wrote to Juul last year, pressing the company to take swift action to keep its nicotine-filled products out of kids' hands -- but they have been disappointed by the lack of progress made since then, the lawmakers said.

"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," the letter says, "we will not rest until your dangerous products are out of the hands of our nation's children."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 608519

Reported Deaths: 9693
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion840461335
Lake45349684
Allen32803548
Hamilton29394315
St. Joseph27380381
Elkhart24404345
Vanderburgh19411249
Tippecanoe17970138
Johnson15069295
Porter14783169
Hendricks14401248
Madison10965221
Vigo10726181
Clark10677144
Monroe9383110
Delaware9116134
LaPorte9065163
Howard8236144
Kosciusko806983
Warrick672999
Hancock6697104
Bartholomew6484100
Floyd6428110
Wayne6136162
Grant5991115
Dubois555579
Boone551168
Morgan541295
Henry507864
Marshall503984
Cass483263
Dearborn479845
Noble473059
Jackson425047
Shelby417581
Lawrence391079
Clinton373043
Gibson370359
Harrison348144
DeKalb347164
Montgomery345754
Knox335639
Miami321444
Steuben313745
Whitley307326
Wabash303251
Adams300936
Ripley298445
Putnam296850
Huntington291659
Jasper289034
White273243
Daviess270474
Jefferson263338
Decatur247683
Fayette247148
Greene239862
Posey239328
Wells236051
LaGrange228862
Scott225339
Clay222532
Randolph213548
Jennings198936
Sullivan192333
Spencer191321
Washington186423
Fountain184027
Starke175443
Jay167623
Owen165737
Fulton164030
Orange159534
Carroll158015
Rush155118
Perry154229
Vermillion149134
Franklin148333
Tipton132332
Parke13078
Pike116926
Blackford111022
Pulaski97037
Newton90921
Brown88035
Benton86610
Crawford7999
Martin73713
Warren6817
Switzerland6615
Union6287
Ohio4907
Unassigned0376

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 859841

Reported Deaths: 10680
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin101171707
Cuyahoga855711125
Hamilton64017448
Montgomery43107418
Summit34836761
Lucas31350625
Butler30973232
Stark25786435
Warren19671140
Lorain19017223
Mahoning17321338
Lake16080154
Clermont15926111
Delaware1438878
Licking13204137
Trumbull12809316
Fairfield1279381
Greene12055137
Medina11591168
Clark10942265
Wood10348158
Allen9897126
Portage9296109
Miami916873
Richland9139118
Marion7459113
Tuscarawas7381182
Columbiana7327124
Pickaway726150
Wayne7034171
Muskingum703141
Erie6152129
Hancock552390
Ross548998
Scioto539164
Geauga508455
Darke470292
Ashtabula453073
Lawrence452654
Union451828
Sandusky436662
Mercer433589
Seneca430166
Huron428741
Auglaize422264
Shelby421222
Jefferson419269
Belmont416840
Washington388740
Athens38009
Putnam374975
Madison355129
Knox352622
Ashland344938
Fulton338443
Defiance330086
Crawford322374
Preble320637
Brown312921
Logan307332
Ottawa293943
Clinton290143
Williams278667
Highland275118
Jackson263845
Guernsey254125
Champaign252028
Fayette236530
Morrow23234
Perry231318
Holmes225474
Henry218749
Hardin213033
Coshocton205622
Van Wert202245
Gallia196726
Wyandot196051
Pike176217
Adams176115
Hocking172024
Carroll155616
Paulding144321
Noble120540
Meigs108624
Monroe100732
Harrison89121
Morgan83130
Vinton70213
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 13°
Feels Like: 18°
Angola
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 12°
Feels Like: 16°
Huntington
Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 10°
Feels Like: 18°
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 13°
Feels Like: 18°
Lima
Cloudy
26° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 17°
Light Snow Sunday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events