Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced last week that her office will join a bipartisan, 39-state probe into the marketing and sales practices of California-based e-cigarette company, Juul Labs.
The investigation seeks to determine whether the firm’s early marketing efforts deliberately targeted minors. It is alleged that Juul ran ads on websites designed for children, like Cartoonnetwork.com and Seventeen.com, and, in addition, used youthful models, bright colors, and flavors like mango, mint, and cucumber to appeal to young people. Also being questioned is whether the company misrepresented the nicotine content of its products.
VAPING NOT SAFE: This inquiry is part of a larger public health discussion surrounding the poorly-understood EVALI, or “e-cigarette / vaping product associated lung injury,” which, nationwide, is thought to have sickened 2,300 and killed 47. A 2019 survey states that one in four Oregon teenagers report having vaped in the past month.
In order to curb underage use, Oregon raised the minimum age for buying or obtaining tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21. Not long thereafter, the Feds followed suit. Although local enforcement began in 2018, teens largely find it easy to avoid the laws by ordering vaping products online. To address this, Rosenblum has proposed House Bill 4078, which would “prohibit the remote sales of inhalant delivery systems.”
JUUL SIGNALS COOPERATION: With an FDA restriction on selling candy-like flavors in convenience stores and several lawsuits against it in process, Juul has opted to make concessions. As of this date, they’ve pulled all “fun” flavors from the market, and halted web, print, and TV ads. The company also issued a statement of their intention to cooperate with regulators and public health officials.
By Peter Bask