E-cigarette manufacturer Juul is under regulatory and legal scrutiny for a number of different reasons. Juul, who is the market leader is facing fire over both the safety of its products and the marketing methods that it uses to sell them. One of the particular areas where Juul has received scrutiny is over its apparent effort to sell e-cigarettes to minors. The product has become widely accepted and used by youth, resulting in both government action against Juul as well as class-action lawsuits.
Juul has attempted to market its products as a safer alternative to cigarettes. Juul claims that it primarily targets smokers who are looking for a nicotine product that does not have as many chemicals and additives. However, Juul’s product has developed a wide following beyond just smokers. One of the biggest demographics that has turned to Juul’s e-cigarettes is teenagers. In fact, Juul is accused or marketing to youth as young as eight years old.
The statistics bear this out, as teenagers are one of the largest groups on users of e-cigarettes. One study found that teenagers under the age of 18 have 16 times the odds of using Juul products as those aged 25 to 34. Part of this results from marketing, which selectively controls what youths learn about e-cigarettes.
In order to understand how Juul targets youth, it is important to know the tactics that the company has used to market its products. In fact, “Juuling” has become a part of the teenage lexicon to describe the use of vaping with an e-cigarette. Juul has done everything possible to establish itself as a trendy product that is a must-have for teens and children.
Juul maintained a very active social media presence where it attempts to be trendy. Its posts are meant to be cutting edge and appeal to a younger demographic. One telling thing that shows that there is something amiss with the social media strategy is the fact that Juul has attempted to delete its old social media posts. The company’s posts overwhelmingly relied on younger attractive models to give the impression of the trendiness of its product. The activities that the models were engaged in were those that youth would typically do as opposed to adults. Companies rarely try to sell products to adults using models that appear to be not much older than teenagers. Juul was actively using hashtags to get its posts shared to the widest possible audiences. Although the company has shuttered its social media operation, in some ways the damage is already done and the imagery is still out there.
The products themselves have also been indicative of the strategy that the company is using to market e-cigarettes. Recently, the company announced that it was halting sales of fruity products and trendy flavors that appealed primarily to youths. In fact, one of the reasons why e-cigarettes have become so popular with youth was the wide availability of sweet and fruity flavors. The company did not take this step out of altruistic motives. Rather, the Food and Drug Administration was preparing to issue rules that would regulate e-cigarettes, including the flavors that could be sold. Juul was trying to get out ahead of the FDA and stop selling products on its own terms, while receiving favorable publicity. However, Juul did not entirely cease selling products that are widely-used by youths as it still sells the overwhelmingly popular mint product that is widely used by youth.
One of the most insidious marketing tactics that Juul has used is sponsoring day camps aimed at promoting holistic health approaches. In reality, these are paid-for event that can steer campers in the direction of e-cigarettes. Juul spent over $100,000 to sponsor a five-week summer camp under the aegis of a charter school. While the majority of the campers were teenagers, who are still underage to use these products, there were some campers as young as eight years old. These are some of the same marketing techniques that were used by Big Tobacco companies in a previous era.
The FDA has taken steps to crack down on Juul’s marketing techniques, and the company has made some changes in response to regulatory pressure. However, the trend of “Juuling” is already well underway and e-cigarettes have been established as a popular product for teens and youths. As a result of Juul’s marketing, there were approximately 3.6 million youth e-cigarettes users as estimated by the Centers for Disease Control in 2018. This number constitutes approximately one third of the total users of e-cigarettes in the country.
E-cigarettes are dangerous for youth and adult users in a number of different ways. The products contain a very high amount of nicotine that can cause various forms of lung disease. In addition, they can cause seizures, and when used by used, can impede brain development. From a safety perspective, there is a danger that the vaping pens can explode, causing severe injury or death. There have been a number of class action lawsuits filed against Juul relating to its products. There are several suits that seek to hold Juul accountable for its practices in marketing e-cigarettes to youth based on the damage that the product has already done to underage users. Further, there are lawsuits related to vape pen explosions, especially in light of several highly publicized incidents in which users were killed when their vape pen exploded. For more information about these lawsuits, contact a vape pen explosion lawyer. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a vape product, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Sadaka Associated can help navigate you through the legal process.