The FDA has issued a strong warning to Juul regarding its marketing claims, especially where kids are concerned. As Parentology reported earlier this year, the leading e-cigarette company has been the focus of an ongoing FDA investigation. The company came under fire for its marketing practices that many view as targeting young users at congressional hearings earlier this year. In short, the government has its sights set on Juul, both the product and its marketing claims.
The FDA’s letter calls Juul to task on two specific issues: the company’s claim that its product is “safer” than traditional cigarettes and targeting young users. Juul has largely marketed their products to traditional smokers as a “safer” alternative to traditional cigarettes with their “Make the Switch” campaign.
This kind of marketing is in direct violation of FDA policy. Before making a claim its e-cigarettes are a safer alternative than tobacco cigarettes, Juul is required to provide scientific evidence backing up their claim, something they’ve failed to do.
“Regardless of where products like e-cigarettes fall on the continuum of tobacco product risk, the law is clear that, before marketing tobacco products for reduced risk, companies must demonstrate with scientific evidence that their specific product does in fact pose less risk or is less harmful. JUUL has ignored the law, and very concerningly, has made some of these statements in school to our nation’s youth,” Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D. said in a statement released Monday.
The issue of targeting youth is the second piece of the FDA’s warning. The company has long been scrutinized for its flavored cartridges many believe only serve to entice young, new users. Congressional hearings earlier this year left Juul in the hot seat as several lawmakers expressed their concern about the company’s marketing strategies.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., referred to Juul’s marketing tactics as “right out of the Big Tobacco playbook.” In response, Juul has stopped selling most flavored cartridges in retail stores, though they’re still available online.
The FDA is showing similar concern with its warning and will be holding the company accountable. According to Sharpless, “We remain committed to using all available tools to ensure that e-cigarettes and other tobacco products aren’t being marketed or sold to kids. We’ve also put the industry on notice: If the disturbing rise in youth e-cigarette use continues, especially through the use of flavors that appeal to kids, we’ll take even more aggressive action.”
The FDA has given Juul 15 business days to respond to the specific claims outlined in this warning. Beyond that, they’ve asked the company to provide its nicotine formula for further examination. Juul has said it will fully cooperate with the FDA.