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Nevada joins 39-state investigation into vape company JUUL’s marketing practices

Michelle Rindels
Michelle Rindels
Health CareIndyBlog

Attorney General Aaron Ford has joined a multi-state investigation into e-cigarette company JUUL Labs and is looking to “get to the bottom” of whether the company targeted youth or made misleading statements about whether the devices help people quit smoking.

The 39-state coalition’s investigation comes as public health practitioners have sounded the alarm over a precipitous rise in the youth vaping rate. It also comes amid a flurry of cases of vaping related illnesses and deaths.

“Preying on children and those looking for help to quit smoking is the one of the most despicable examples of risking people's lives for corporate profit," Ford said in a statement on Tuesday. "Anyone found risking the health and safety of Nevadans, especially our children, will answer for their deception."

JUUL spokesman Austin Finan said the company’s customer base is the world’s 1 billion adult smokers and it does not intend to attract underage users. JUUL, which is owned by the tobacco company Altria, also laid out a variety of actions it has taken in recent months.

“We will continue to reset the vapor category in the U.S. and seek to earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with attorneys general, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use and transition adult smokers from combustible cigarettes,” Finan said in a statement. “As part of that process in the U.S., we are preparing comprehensive and scientifically rigorous Premarket Tobacco Product Applications, stopped the sale of flavored pods other than Tobacco and Menthol in November, halted our television, print and digital product advertising, implemented a $1 billion restructuring plan, and support the Administration’s final flavor policy.”

Ford said that as of earlier this month, there have been more than 2,700 hospitalizations for vaping-related lung illnesses nationwide — including seven in Nevada — and 64 confirmed deaths. 

To try to curb vaping, Nevada lawmakers authorized a tax on vaping products last year, and recently approved the first steps of a plan to spend $1.7 million in funds from a settlement with Johnson & Johnson toward the cause. Similar to what the state has done to address opioid overdoses, the plan calls for a statewide summit on vaping and cannabis to start developing a strategic plan for preventing youth use, a close analysis of data and a marketing campaign targeted to any Nevada-specific emerging trends.

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