Dozens of protesters held a rally Tuesday morning in front of Juul’s Manhattan offices to call them out for marketing toward young adults and hooking kids on their flavored tobacco.
Protesters want City Council to restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, and are backing a bill sponsored by City Councilman Mark Levine.
Earlier this year, NYC students testified to Congress saying that Juul representatives told students that their products were safe even though they do have nicotine. A statement from Juul about this read:
“The two student presentations we made were part of our short-lived Education and Youth Prevention Program which was ended in September 2018 after its purpose — to educate youth on the dangers of nicotine addiction — was clearly misconstrued. In November, we launched our industry-leading plan to combat youth vaping — we stepped up our advocacy for T21 legislation, we stopped the sale of non-tobacco and non-menthol based flavored JUULPods to our traditional retail store partners, enhanced our online age-verification process, strengthened our retailer compliance program with over 2,000 secret shopper visits per month, and shut down our Facebook and Instagram accounts while working constantly to remove inappropriate social media content generated by others on those platforms. Finally, we continue to develop technologies to further restrict underage access.”
Protestors were also met with activists during the rally.
News of this comes days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it is investigating 94 possible cases of severe lung illness associated with vaping, especially in teens and young adults. The cases are from 14 different states. The investigation is ongoing.
Last week, the New York Department of Health, which has reported 11 cases of related illness, joined New Jersey in issuing a health advisory against vaping. Reported symptoms in the cases include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain and vomiting.
In response to the protests, Juul released the following statement:
“Juul Labs exists to help adult smokers switch off combustible cigarettes, which are the leading cause of preventable death and contribute to over 28,000 deaths per year in New York.
“We do not want or need new non-nicotine users. Our market is the over 1 billion adult smokers worldwide who should have the opportunity to switch to vapor products if they so desire.
“We have never marketed to youth, do not sell flavors like cotton candy or bubble gum, and strongly advocated for Tobacco 21 legislation here in New York. In November 2018 we stopped selling non-tobacco and non-menthol-based flavors to traditional retail stores, which represented 50% of our revenue at that time. All of our non-traditional tobacco-flavored pods are now exclusively sold through our ecommerce platform, which features an industry-leading, third-party, age-verification system that puts every purchase through a rigorous, multi-step process to ensure that the customer is 21 or older and restricts bulk purchasing. We offer these products in this limited, secure way because they play an important role in helping smokers switch by providing users with a taste and aroma different than traditional tobacco.
“We will continue to lead the industry and support industry-wide actions to reverse the trend in youth use, while preserving this unprecedented opportunity for adult smokers, and we will continue to work with New York policymakers in a transparent and collaborative fashion to achieve that goal.”
On Monday the New York Post reported Juul Labs Inc. has raised $325 million to speed up its international expansion as it battles U.S. regulators. Juul is 35 percent owned by Marlboro cigarette maker Altria Group Inc.