Democratic senators question Juul about its Altria deal


Eleven democratic senators, led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), have penned a letter to Juul Labs, asking a collection of questions across the product’s advertising and marketing, its effectiveness as a instrument to assist folks 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 corporate marriage between two companies that have been the most prolific at marketing highly addictive nicotine products to children is alarming from a public health standpoint and demonstrates, yet again, that JUUL is more interested in padding its profit margins than protecting our nation’s children,” 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 cope with Altria.

In late 2018, Juul announced it had bought 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 presently addicted grownup cigarette people who smoke.

Within the letter, the senators cite the American Coronary heart Affiliation, which known as the Altria/Juul deal “a match made in tobacco heaven.” Juul was already in sizzling water over its product’s recognition amongst younger folks, so it’s solely anticipated {that a} partnership with conventional Huge Tobacco would additional gas issues amongst critics.

Extra from the letter:

JUUL’s determination to crew up with Altria, the guardian firm of Philip Morris USA, can also be dangerous information for kids contemplating that Altria has an extended and sordid historical past of spending billions to entice kids to smoke via focused campaigns that deliberately lied in regards to the science and well being results from cigarettes. And their efforts have clearly paid off. In keeping with the CDC, Altria’s Marlboro cigarette continues to be the most well-liked cigarette model amongst kids in america, 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 via 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 kids 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 concerning JUUL Labs’ dedication to curbing underage use of our merchandise whereas fulfilling our mission to get rid of flamable cigarettes, the primary reason behind preventable demise in our nation. We agree that corporations resembling ours should step up with significant measures to restrict entry and attraction of vapor merchandise to younger folks. That’s precisely what we’ve finished, and we are going to do extra to fight teen use to save lots of the harm-reduction alternative for the 34 million grownup people who smoke in america. Don’t take our phrase for it — take a look at our actions. As a part of our motion plan deployed in November 2018 to maintain JUUL merchandise out of the arms 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 constantly working to take away inappropriate third-party social media content material. We assist the FDA’s draft steering proscribing the sale of sure flavored merchandise, together with JUULpods, at shops and on-line, and can proceed to work with FDA, Congress, state Attorneys Common, native municipalities, and neighborhood organizations as a clear and accountable companion 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 further regulations to the sale of flavored e-cig products.

Juul has till April 25 to offer solutions and data in response to the letter.


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