Dear Commons Community,
Juul Labs planted the seeds of a public health crisis by marketing to a generation with low smoking rates, and it ignored evidence that teenagers were using its products. As reported by The New York Times.
“In the face of mounting investigations, subpoenas and lawsuits, Juul Labs now insists that it never marketed or knowingly sold its trendy e-cigarettes and flavored nicotine pods to teenagers.
As youth vaping soared and “juuling” became a high school craze, the company’s top executives have stood firm in their assertion that Juul’s mission has always been to give adult smokers a safer alternative to cigarettes, which play a role in the deaths of 480,000 people in the United States each year.
“We never wanted any non-nicotine user and certainly nobody underage to ever use Juul products,” James Monsees, a co-founder of the company, testified at a congressional hearing in July.
But in reality, the company was never just about helping adult smokers, according to interviews with former executives, employees and investors, along with reviews of legal filings and social media archives.
Juul’s remarkable rise to resurrect and dominate the e-cigarette business came after it began targeting consumers in their 20s and early 30s, a generation with historically low smoking rates, in a furious effort to reward investors and capture market share before the government tightened regulations on vaping.
As recently as 2017, as evidence grew that high school students were flocking to its sleek devices and flavored nicotine pods, the company refused to sign a pledge not to market to teenagers as part of a lawsuit settlement. It wasn’t until the summer of 2018, when the Food and Drug Administration required it to do so, that the company put a nicotine warning label on its packaging.
Though some former employees recalled Mr. Monsees wearing a T-shirt at the office that used an expletive to refer to Big Tobacco, the start-up’s early pitches to potential investors listed selling the business to a big tobacco company as one of the potential ways to cash out. (Last December, the tobacco giant Altria paid $12.8 billion for a 35 percent stake in the company.)
These and other previously unreported decisions would plant the seeds for a public health crisis in which a new generation is becoming hooked on nicotine and that has raised questions about the future of e-cigarettes in the United States and Juul’s ability to stay in business.”
The executives of Juul should be subject to criminal prosecution. They are worse than the heads of Mexican drug cartels.