Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Wednesday that she has joined a 39-state coalition in investigating the marketing and sales practices of JUUL Labs.
“The health and safety of our youth should not be jeopardized by false advertising and deceptive marketing tactics,” Nessel said in a statement. “Companies that mislead customers about their products are not good corporate actors and they must be held accountable when they engage in this behavior.”
The attorneys general of Connecticut, Florida, Nevada, Oregon, and Texas are leading the investigation, which was announced Monday. The states are looking at JUUL’s efforts to “market their nicotine delivery devices to youth.”
“We are also looking at claims made by JUUL regarding nicotine content and statements they have made regarding the risks, safety and effectiveness as a smoking cessation tool,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong.
Traditional cigarette use among youth has plummeted in the U.S., but vaping is “skyrocketing,” according to the attorneys general. They pointed to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which found that more than five million youth reported using an e-cigarette within the past 30 days – up from 3.6 million in 2018.
A survey of Michigan high schoolers found a similar trend in the “number of students who admitted to using an electronic vaping product in the past 30 days,” said Nessel.
“Michigan has seen an explosive and unprecedented increase in youth vaping, and there is no question that marketing and availability of flavors directly contributed to this epidemic,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “We have to hold these companies accountable and do everything we can to keep vaping products out of the hands of youth.”
President Donald Trump signed a spending package in December that raises the federal legal age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21, which will take effect this summer.
Other states, such as Minnesota, have filed suit against the vaping giant over its “youth-oriented” marketing practices. Teenagers who say they became addicted to nicotine through using JUUL products have also sued the company.
As a result of the onslaught of lawsuits and public pressure, JUUL Labs announced it would suspend sales of its fruit and dessert products in the U.S. and stopped all broadcast, print, and digital advertisements in the country.
“These results are unacceptable and that is why we must reset the vapor category in the U.S. and earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with regulators, attorneys general, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use,” the company said in a November statement after the results of the National Youth Tobacco Survey were released. “We will support the upcoming FDA flavor policy and will follow the PMTA process.”
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