FDA Sends Warning Letter to Juul CEO for Nicotine Vaping Promotion Tactics

Yolanda Curtis
September 12, 2019

The FDA notes that Juul advertised its products as a "modified risk tobacco product" wherein the firm claims in multiple instances that its product is safer than regular cigarettes.

"We believe you have a continuing responsibility to take action to address the epidemic of youth use of your products, some of which appears to have been a direct result of your product design and marketing campaigns, whether or not some of these practices have been discontinued", the FDA's separate letter to Juul said.

Regardless of where products like e-cigarettes fall on the tobacco product risk spectrum, the law is clear that before marketing tobacco products for reduced risk, companies must demonstrate with scientific evidence that their specific product does in fact pose less risk or is less harmful, the FDA said.

The FDA's warning letter also raises issues with certain statements made by those attending a July U.S. congressional hearing where a panel grilled Juul over a "holistic health education" camp it funded, as part of efforts to market its products directly to school-aged children. We've also put the industry on notice: "If the disturbing rise in youth e-cigarette use continues, especially through the use of flavors that appeal to kids, we'll take even more aggressive action". JUUL presents its products as having a lower risk of causing tobacco-related diseases and promotes them as safe for young people, according to the FDA.


The warning letter identified several problematic statements made by a JUUL representative speaking at a school at an unspecified date, including that the product was "much safer than cigarettes" and that 'FDA would approve it any day. The explosive increase in vaping among our youth is a public health emergency.

"Juul has maintained that its products are meant to convert adult smokers to what it described in the past as a less-harmful alternative".

None of these claims, the FDA pointed out, has received the agency's approval as required by law.

Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Juul said the company is reviewing the letter and plans to "fully cooperate".


Five deaths, which have been suspected to be linked to vaping, have been reported in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Oregon.

"Agustin Rodriguez, counsel at Troutman Sanders in Richmond, Virginia, said when vaping companies receive a letter like this, it is in their best interest to have their in-house counsel organize a team to respond to the claims in the letter", Dan Clark writes for Law.com. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation's food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products. "The word gets out quickly in the retail community", he said.

"Witnesses testified, for example, that Juul advertising saturated social-media channels frequented by underage teens and that Juul used influencers and discount coupons to attract new customers", a letter, signed by Center for Tobacco Products director Mitchell Zeller, states.


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