Juul targeted schools, camps and youth programs, House panel claims

In the second day of hearings about youth vaping and Juul Labs, a House subcommittee asserted Thursday that the company targeted children and teenagers.

In the second day of hearings about youth vaping and Juul Labs, a House subcommittee asserted Thursday that the company targeted children and teenagers. Juul "deployed a sophisticated program to enter schools and convey its messaging directly to teenage children," recruited thousands of online influencers to market its vaping devices to youth, and targeted children as young as age 8 years in summer camp, according to a memo prepared by subcommittee staff members. Speaking before the panel, Juul co-founder James Monsees noted the company's decision last year to stop selling most of its flavored nicotine pods in stores and limit their availability to online, age-verified sales. "I can't imagine a more responsive and proactive action we could take," he said. The company stopped shipping the flavored pods to retailers as FDA threatened to remove the devices from the market if it did not take steps to keep them away from youth. The subcommittee's findings were based on thousands of documents obtained from Juul and the Massachusetts attorney general's office, which is investigating the company. A key question for FDA is whether the company intentionally marketed its products to teens. The documents presented at the hearing included a detailed company plan to recruit celebrity "influencers" to promote the devices in their early days. Lawmakers also asserted that the activities Juul promoted last year as prevention efforts were actually aimed at familiarizing teens with its products. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), chairman of the panel overseeing the hearing, expressed concern about the difficulty parents have in detecting e-cigarettes, compared with traditional combustible products, and he took issue with Juul's claim that it had removed flavors that are appealing to youth from stores. "Although you say you took all the flavors out of the stores, you left the mint flavor," he said. "Mint is a flavor and it took the place of other flavors."