A month ago King County sued the vaping company, JUUL, for promoting vaping to youth. The accusations entail that JUUL was using social media to promote vape products that would interest the youth specifically.
“As we allege in the complaint, it is clear that JUUL, like Big Tobacco before it, targeted youth to hook a whole new generation on candy-flavored nicotine,” says Dow Constantine, King County executive.
According to the Winston-Salem Journal, at the end of 2018 JUUL had a 75.8% market share making them the dominant e-cigarette seller. King County alleges that because of this, JUUL had a large part in the resurgence of nicotine abuse among youth. According to Jerome Adams, a surgeon general of the United States Public Health Service, e-cigarette use among both high school and middle school students rose 900% in the span of just four years. King County attributes this 900% increase to JUUL selling flavored vape products and JUUL allegedly providing free samples of nicotine vape cartridges.
King County officials are asking the court to force JUUL officials to pay for addiction treatment, the discontinuation of their products and to pay for prevention education.
Cigarette companies are prohibited from using outdoor advertising, sponsoring events, giving free samples, paying influencers, paying a third party to conduct any activity which the tobacco manufacturer is prohibited from doing and selling flavored cigarettes. JUUL has already employed a few of these tactics but as of today, JUUL officials have discontinued fruit-based flavors and shut down all print, broadcast and digital advertising.
Altria, one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of tobacco, is also being sued as they acquired a 35% stake in JUUL. King County alleged that Altria marketers are helping expand JUUL’s marketplace even though they know it is heavily dependent on youth.
“Intentionally targeting youth and teens with candy-flavored vapor products to get them hooked on nicotine and turn them into lifelong customers is wrong and has led to a new public health crisis in our county,” says Jeanne Kohl-Welles, King County councilmember and chair of the King County Board of Health.
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