House Dems Came Down Hard on Juul Co-Founder in House Committee Hearing

Democratic Members of the subcommittee on House Committee Oversight and Reform’s Economic and Consumer Policy, came down hard on Juul executives who faced the committee panel last July 24-25, 2019.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Dem-Ill, who chaired the hearing, said their main goal is to understand why of all other e-cigarette products, Juul in particular is “very attractive to teens.” In his opening statement, he voiced hopes that the 2-day hearing will help them understand what roles the Juul device played in the teen-vaping epidemic, in order to work toward solutions for preventing the growing teen-vaping addiction.

The hearing though conçluded with Chairman Krishnamoorthi saying the Juul executives have not provided satisfactory answers to his queries.

On the Issues of Juul’s Strong Appeal to Teens

Last year, federal survey data revealed that nearly 21% of U.S. high school students, estimated to number roughly at 3 million teens, are into vaping. Juul critics say that this is mainly because the advertising campaigns of the company targeted minors, which led to what has now been established as “teen-vaping epidemic.”

Even if Juul says its products are intended for adult smokers who want to end their cigarette smoking habit, the Juul advertisements and campaign materials spoke for themselves.

During the hearing Dr. Robert Jackler Stanford University presented Juul advertisements in bright colors, featuring young-looking and attractive models. Dr. Jackler founded the Stanford Research Into The Impact of Tobacco Advertising, an interdisciplinary research group that performs research into the promotional campaigns of the tobacco industry, including those of e-cigarette promoters.

Juul Exec’s Defense

Monsees said the company never wanted any non-smokers, especially not anyone who is underage, to use their e-cigarette products. Yet he acknowledged federal data showing millions of high school students who started vaping when Juul’s products became popular as the cool thing among teenagers.

James Monsees’ only defense about the advertisements was that they were missteps that they acted quickly to correct.

Actually, Juul’s company only took actions when researches and critics started raising concerns on how the company was using Facebook and Instagram in spreading Juul promotions among young people and non-nicotine users. As for the pull out of nearly all of its flavored pods, the company did so only after facing pressure from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Moreover, the so-called efforts to correct said missteps included holding of summer camps and outreach programs to talk to students about healthy lifestyle. Ashley Gould, Juul’s chief administrative officer said they also gave out six (6) grants to schools and youth programs, in unspecified amounts. The purpose of which was to fund vaping prevention activities; although clarification was made that the company has ceased providing funds for such programs.

James Monsees, also emphasized their decision last year to cease selling most of its flavored nicotine pods in outlets, as well as limit availability of Juul products to online sites with age-verification systems. He said that as a result, the company lost nearly half of its business, asserting

“I cannot imagine a more proactive and responsive action to take.”

The harshest lashing came from Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, Dem-Ca. who pointed out that he has been involved in the Bay Area’s public health for a long time. He said that for him, Monseen was the worst example of the Bay Area problem, adding

You are nothing but a marketer of a poison, and your target is young people.”