Juul is the primary target of a new investigation opened by the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy.
It’s very common for vaping to face unfair scrutiny in the face of legislators. After all, vaping and smoking do appear extremely similar, and tobacco still kills more people every year than almost anything else. But after years of continued research, which suggests vaping is an invaluable harm reduction and smoking cessation tool, these same politicians remain set on treating vaping as if it was the same as smoking. This trend has once again reared its ugly head, as the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy just opened up an investigation into what they’re calling a “youth e-cigarette epidemic.”
This new fight means both sides of Congress will be engaged in their own investigations into teenage vaping, with Juul Labs in the spotlight. An inquiry has been ongoing in Senate since earlier this year, with experts split on what might happen. Reactions to the new Congressional investigation were quite varied. Supporters of vaping once again call into question the true motives and goals, while many legislators praised the decision. Regardless of the outcome, another major investigation into vaping’s largest company is now a reality.
Earlier this week, the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy announced they had opened an investigation into what they’re calling the “youth e-cigarette epidemic.” Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi wants to determine if vaping companies had purposefully marketed their products toward minors. Given how Juul Labs dominates the vaping market, they’re once again the target of this investigation. According to reports, the committee has asked Juul for any documents going back as far as 2013 regarding their marketing strategies. They have a particular interest in learning if Juul Labs was taking advantage of, or even aware of, any ways in which they were marketing toward teens. The committee also requested some documents unrelated to teenage vaping, such as evidence used to determine their nicotine strength and smoking cessation value.
Juul Labs was quick to respond to the news, telling outlets they’re ready and willing to comply with any requests Congress makes. They also pointed out their robust and industry-leading efforts to curb underage use in response to growing concern, including a program designed to identify retailers who sell to minors. Regardless, Juul Labs only has until later this week to comply with the request. It’s still too early to know what might come of this latest investigation, but considering all the turmoil already facing the vaping industry, many are growing anxious.
The Wider Context
While the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy believes vaping is leading to more smokers, the research we have on the topic disagrees. A report of over 60,000 teens by Action of Smoking and Health concluded only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teenagers are ever picking up a vape more than once or twice. The scary teenage vaping numbers often referenced tend to equate any teen who has ever tried a vape with those who are chronic users. Meanwhile, Juul Labs has really done a lot to try and prove their only goal is helping adult smokers end their tobacco dependence. Last year they made several unforced moves to this end. That included starting an ad campaign specifically geared toward helping parents know how to tell if their child had started vaping, as well as working on geo-fences for their products which would lock them in certain locations. They even pledged $30 million to help fund research on how to best prevent teenage vaping from getting out of hand.
This doesn’t even begin to mention all the evidence we have for the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of vaping. For instance, a recent report out of Roswell Park Cancer Institute concluded the toxicants in cigarette smoke are 93% higher than in e-liquid vapor. A different study found the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is 57,000 times lower than with similar smokers. We also have reason to view e-cigarettes as an invaluable quit aid, thanks to a report from the University of Louisville which concluded not only is vaping an effective tool, but it may be more likely to work than anything else, including prescription drugs.
Juul has largely been a victim of their own success. By becoming the undisputed world leader in casual vaping products, they’ve ensured they’re always at the forefront of any discussion into the benefits and risks of vaping. Despite all the positive research being published, a large percentage of people continue to see vaping as a bigger problem than it is a solution. That’s why we must continue to teach those around us about everything e-cigarettes really have to offer. If we want to secure and ensure our vaping rights, the best chance we have is to make sure every smoker understands what they stand to gain by making the switch once and for all.
Does this new Congressional inquiry surprise you? What’s the most critical part about vaping to you personally? How can we spread the positive research on vaping to the broadest variety of smokers? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.