U.S. Markets open in 24 mins

JUUL Is Under Fire On All Sides

Say Contributor

The electronic cigarette kingpin JUUL has been facing heavy scrutiny this year, and now it’s about to undergo yet another investigation. But the brand’s less-than-official streetwise competition is also getting raked over the coals. Minor Threat Do you know how some sandwich shops will give you a customer appreciation card, and if you buy enough lunches there you get a free one? Well, if businesses had those, but instead of sandwiches it was government investigations into their business practices, then JUUL would definitely be due for a free one. The besieged electronic cigarette company is being investigated again, this time by the Federal Trade Commission, which is looking into whether the company marketed its product to minors. States including Connecticut and North Carolina have begun similar inquiries, but this is clearly on a whole other level. Of particular interest to the FTC is JUUL’s abandoned program of paying social media influencers to promote their product. A frequent criticism of JUUL is that its fruit flavors such as mango are designed to appeal to teenagers, and in response the company pulled the flavors from retailers, though they remain available online. The FTC is reportedly determining whether to seek monetary damages. FTC For You and Me The FTC isn’t content to let the FDA have all the fun. Last year it conducted a surprise inspection of JUUL’s headquarters and seized documents about the company’s marketing. JUUL’s first marketing campaign “Vaporized” featured images of “cool” 20 and 30s something using the product, which critics say made it attractive to teenagers. Urge to Merge This probe has apparently been underway for quite a while, but it’s coming to light as the news breaks that JUUL’s parent company Alitra is looking to reunite with Philip Morris International. JUUL has been so heavily criticized for the safety of its products in the U.S. (the Center for Disease Control is investigating a “cluster” of lung illnesses that could possibly be related to e-cigarette use) that analysts think Alitra is zeroing in on international markets. Earlier this year, a shareholder proposal for Alitra to disclose and begin reducing nicotine levels in its products failed to pass. Streetwise In other electronic cigarette news, the CDC has also warned pregnant women and young adults to avoid the e-cigarettes altogether as it continues its investigation into the vaping’s safety. -Michael Tedder Photo by Adobe