CEH’s Fight Against JUUL Matters Even More During the Coronavirus Pandemic
As a nation, we are facing an epidemic where lung health is front and center. COVID-19 is exposing the underlying conditions that can make a seemingly healthy young person vulnerable to this ferocious disease. At CEH, we have been fighting for years against one important contributor: vaping. Researchers have already noted that smoking is associated with increased vulnerability to COVID-19 and that e-cigarettes may be similar.
This issue is personal to me. My kids are ages 11 and 13. JUUL’s business model is based upon tricking them and all their friends into being future users of e-cigarettes and paying $25 a week, every week, for the rest of their lives profiting off of them while harming their health and increasing their vulnerability to COVID-19.
JUUL, the largest e-cigarette maker in the world, propelled a nationwide youth vaping crisis using every trick in Big Tobacco’s dirty playbook. They: 1) lied about the problem, 2) when cigarette rates went down, they offered a harmful alternative, and 3) hooked new addicts.
JUUL doesn’t make a smoking cessation device. They make an alternative nicotine-delivery device. Their business model is to replace life-long smokers with life-long JUULers. They want to create life-long addicts to toxic chemicals starting in middle school.
Next year, my daughter will be in middle school. I’m not letting JUUL advertise to her.
The Big Tobacco Playbook
Big Tobacco hid the harms related to smoking for years, addicting cigarette smokers with flashy marketing campaigns. Today, they are doing the same thing with JUUL and other e-cigarettes. They were one of the first major e-cigarette brands to rely heavily on social media to promote their products. After a study in JAMA Pediatrics found that 8 out of 10 of JUUL’s Twitter followers were under 20 years old, the company played dumb and continued posting content that featured attractive, enthusiastic young people joyfully vaping. It was wrong and it was blatant. This is the type of fight CEH takes on and wins.
In 2015, CEH tested 97 e-cigarette products from every leading U.S. brand and found that many had high levels of cancer-causing chemicals. We took legal action against a group of companies and sued them over formaldehyde in their products.
But this wasn’t enough. What we really wanted to do was prevent them from marketing to young people and addicting a new generation to their toxic product.
Last year, we reached a landmark settlement with JUUL that mandated strong restrictions on their underhanded marketing practices. Because of this settlement, JUUL can no longer advertise their highly addictive products on social media, near playgrounds and schools, or at events with attendees younger than age 21. And now, in light of COVID-19, we are so glad that we took on this fight. Our actions have most likely protected many young people from weakening their lung functioning and becoming the youngest victims of the virus.
This is just the beginning. If JUUL violates our agreement by one inch, we’ll sue them again. And, we’re not alone in this fight. Recently, a group of 39 state attorney generals announced an investigation into JUUL’s marketing toward underage users, and a wave of lawsuits from nine different states have followed. I have been in the room with JUUL executives during legal mediations, and I can tell you, these people need to be held accountable. No one should profit off of the health of our children.
We believe that our agreement with JUUL will prevent countless young people from starting to vape, thus protecting our children from becoming vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 and experiencing catastrophic outcomes such as death or life-long lung issues. Today, and every day, CEH will continue to fight for the future health of our children. Thank you for being part of our community and fighting alongside us.
Information for Parents
If you are a parent struggling with a teen who is vaping. Please check out this online resource to start this important conversation to protect your child’s health.