What’s the case against the e-cigarette company Juul, and did it encourage ‘vaping’ among teens?

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Juul Inc, a dominant player in the e-cigarette or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) market, agreed on September 6 to pay $438.5 million to settle complaints by 34 U.S. states and territories who said its marketing has led to an increase in teen vaping.

“Juul’s cynically calculated advertising campaigns have created a new generation of nicotine addicts,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong. “They relentlessly marketed vaping products to young minors, manipulated their chemical composition to be acceptable to inexperienced users, used an inadequate age verification process, and misled consumers about the content of nicotine and addiction to its products.”

Limits have been placed on its marketing and sales practices, such as misrepresenting the nicotine content of its product and using paid influencers. A survey by the US states of Connecticut, Texas and Oregon found that Juul was able to become “the most dominant player in the e-cigarette market by deliberately engaging in an advertising campaign that appealed to young people.

What are Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS)?

E-cigarettes, e-hookahs, e-pipes, vapes, and vapes are some examples of electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products. These are electrical devices that produce an aerosol made by heating a liquid, usually containing nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals. While some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, others are sleekly designed, often resembling everyday objects like pens or USB drives, as in the case of Juul.

While ENDS were originally marketed to help smokers quit smoking or as a safer alternative to cigarettes, they have become very popular among young people, often appealing to non-smokers as well. According to data from the UK’s National Health Service viewed by The Telegraph, there has been a steady increase in its use or “vaping” by children and teenagers in the country as they are targeted by companies with bright, exotic flavors and attractive names”. ”

The US Center for Disease Control says that while e-cigarettes have the potential to help adult smokers if used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes, they can still cause harm. Besides highly addictive nicotine, e-cigarette aerosol may also contain harmful substances such as heavy metals and carcinogens.

What are the charges against Juul?

With its launch in 2015, the USB-style Juul e-cigarette, with sweet and fruity flavors like mango and creme brulee, took the ENDS market by storm. According to Wired magazine, in 2018, Juul Labs, Inc’s annual revenue was approximately $2 billion and it was valued at $38 billion, after accepting a cash investment of $12.8 billion. dollars from Altria, (formerly known as Philip Morris), one of the largest tobacco companies in the world. .

Juul’s financial success coincided with the device’s immense popularity among teenagers and young adults in Western countries. Between 2018 and 2019, Juul use among 18- to 20-year-olds in the United States doubled, and among 21- to 24-year-olds, it tripled, Reuters reported. Juul has been widely blamed for creating an “epidemic” of youth vaping and thousands of lawsuits have been filed against it. After a significant pushback, the company announced in 2019 that it would discontinue its sweet flavors and only sell tobacco and Virginia menthol flavors.

On June 23, the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) ordered Juul to stop selling its e-cigarettes in the U.S. market, saying it had received “insufficient and conflicting data” on the impact of the drug. product on public health and safety. Juul, however, received a temporary stay from a United States Court of Appeals the following day. On July 5, the FDA temporarily suspended the ban, saying it would undertake further review of “scientific issues” in the Juul app, as reported by The New York Times.

What is the legal status of the e-cigarette market in India?

In September 2019, the Indian government banned the production, manufacture, import, export, transportation, sale, distribution, storage and advertising of all ENDS. By law, Juul and all other e-cigarettes are currently banned in India.

Penalties for breaking the law range from a fine of Rs 1 to 5 lakh, as well as a jail term of 1 to 3 years, while those found storing the devices will face a fine. imprisonment of up to 6 months and/or a fine of up to 50,000 rupees. The government claimed the ban would help “protect people”, especially young people and children, from the risk of e-cigarette addiction.

A report by Prescient and Strategic Intelligence in July 2019, months before India’s ENDS ban, showed a thriving e-cigarette market in the country. From $7.8 million in 2018, the market is expected to reach $45.3 million by 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 26.4%, with young users holding the largest market share .

So, despite an outright ban, e-cigarettes and vapes are available in cigarette stores and various online marketplaces. The most commonly sold are the disposable variety which cannot be refilled after one use and cost between Rs 500 and Rs 3,500. Largely made in China, brands such as iGet, Yuoto and Dyb sell their products in a variety of sweet and fruity flavors like ‘Lush Fruit’, ‘Cola Ice’ and ‘Iced Strawberry’ to attract more customers.

Likewise, despite repeated attempts by the US FDA to curb sales of sweet-tasting e-cigarettes, Reuters found they were available in stores across the US. According to the August report, at least 20 brands are still selling disposable e-cigarettes, many of which are made in China.


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