Boston, MA – The office of MA Attorney General Maura Healey is officially investigating the company behind popular vaping device, Juul, after an accumulation of concerns that their products are intentionally marketed to minors. Juul Labs has already been involved in a number of lawsuits regarding underage nicotine addiction, and Attorney General Healey wants to determine what the company does to prevent minors from accessing their products.
She argues that the company is intentionally marketing to a younger demographic, citing advertisements with bright colors which feature young individuals with smiling faces. Juul Labs refutes these claims.
E-cigarettes have gained popularity within the past decade. In an aim to decrease the harmful effects that tobacco can have on the lungs, the devices instead vaporize a nicotine-containing liquid. While this does minimize the carcinogenic risk of smoking, especially compared to cigarettes, the addictive properties of nicotine are still active. This has become a concern of the CDC and other health-focused organizations, who claim that vaping’s promotion as a “safer alternative” can draw in non-smokers and teenagers – individuals not originally in need of a less harmful alternative to cigarette use.
Juul Labs, which came into being in 2015, currently dominates over two thirds of the e-cigarette market. One pod of liquid is supposedly equal to one pack of cigarettes, though some critics argue that it is more equal to two years. One of the main concerns Healey and others have also expressed is that the younger school-aged children are attracted to the fruity and appealing flavors of e-cigarettes without understanding the extent of the nicotine content. Attorney General Healy claims that this appeal to younger individuals, especially those who are not legally permitted to use e-cigarettes and similar products:
"This is about getting kids to start vaping. That's what these companies are up to. They're engaged in an effort to get kids addicted, get them hooked so they will have customers for the rest of their lives."
Matt David, a spokesperson for Juul Labs, has responded to Healey’s words and the news of her investigation, maintaining that the company has “never marketed to anyone underage.” He elaborated in a recent statement, claiming that Juul Labs “utilize[s] stringent online tools to block attempts by those under the age of 21 from purchasing [their] products, including unique ID match and age verification technology."