Friday, 17 January, 2020

Juul warned over claims e-cigarette safer than smoking

In just three years the electronic cigarette manufacturer Juul has swallowed the American market with its vaporettes in the shape of a USB key FDA Alleges Juul E Cigarette Company Illegally Marketed Nicotine Products 1EVA HAMBACH AFP Getty Images Amy Furr9 Sep 2019
Ginger Lawrence | 10 September, 2019, 23:44

The US Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter on Monday to Juul, the leading manufacturer of e-cigarettes, specifically addressing the company's marketing tactics, which have stated e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to regular cigarettes.

Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat, wrote Sharpless last week urging the agency to look into the claims Juul has made, including some before his House Oversight and Reform subcommittee.

Under federal regulations, such "modified-risk claims" must be authorized by the FDA.

"This is a kids' toy, make no mistake about it, no matter what Juul tells you", he said. Juul officials who testified said they had ended the school programs and that the company no longer sold many types of e-flavored cigarettes in retail stores.

The report also noted that company spokesman Ted Kwong said Juul was "reviewing the letters and will fully cooperate".

However, vaping has reportedly been linked to at least five deaths and 450 illnesses across the nation.

The recent outbreak of lung illnesses mostly involves people who said they vaped marijuana.

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Although officials said the definitive cause of the illnesses remains unknown, "the severity of the illness and the recent increase in the incidence of this clinical syndrome indicates that these cases represent a new or newly recognized and worrisome cluster of pulmonary disease related to vaping", according to a report by health officials in Wisconsin and IL.

Most experts, though, agree the aerosol from e-cigarettes is less harmful than cigarette smoke since it doesn't contain most of the cancer-causing byproducts of burning tobacco.

During the congressional hearing in July, two NY high school students testified that a Juul representative who gave a presentation on addiction at their school allegedly told them that the company's product was "totally safe".

The agency requested documents related to marketing, including scientific evidence and data such as consumer perception studies "related to whether these statements and representations explicitly or implicitly convey that JUUL products pose less risk, are less harmful, present reduced exposure, are safer than other tobacco products or that the products are smoking cessation products". The letter cites congressional testimony that Juul's advertising "saturated social media channels frequented by underage teens" and "used influencers and discount coupons to attract new customers".

The agency wants answers to those questions within 30 days.

In marketing materials, Juul has also referred to its products as "99% safer than cigarettes, "much safer" than cigarettes, "totally safe" and "a safer alternative than smoking cigarettes", according to the FDA letter".

"Juul has ignored the law, and very concerningly, has made some of these statements in school to our nation's youth". Juul has 15 business days to respond with a plan for fixing the problems. "Failure to ensure compliance with the FD&C Act may result in FDA initiating further action, including, but not limited to, civil money penalties, seizure, and/or injunction".