The government is finally fighting back against the burgeoning e-cigarette industry as the vaping epidemic ravages teens with addiction and a mysterious lung illness that has hospitalized hundreds and claimed multiple lives. On September 9, federal officials at the Food and Drug Administration issued two warning letters to e-cigarette giant JUUL attacking its claims that its e-cigarette products are a safer alternative to smoking other tobacco products and requesting documents about its marketing practices and nicotine formula. Just two days later, the Trump Administration announced that it was investigating banning all flavored e-cigarettes.
What Did the FDA’s Letters Say?
JUUL markets their e-cigarette products as “modified risk tobacco products,” which means that the products have a lower risk of tobacco-related illnesses or are less harmful than other marketed tobacco products. However, in order to advertise a product as a “modified risk tobacco product”, a company must have authorization from the FDA and JUUL has not received this authorization. The FDA reports that, as a result, “JUUL has ignored the law.”
In a separate letter, the FDA expressed concern that JUUL’s marketing strategies involved targeting underage users by advertising on social media sites popular among teenagers and using influencers and coupons to entice new customers. The FDA also requested additional information from the company about its use of a special nicotine-salt e-liquid that possibly intensifies the addictiveness of its products.
What Is The Trump Administration’s Position?
On September 11, President Trump announced his administration was taking steps to remove all flavored vaping products from the market, with the exception of tobacco-flavored products. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar shared that the number of teens who say they have vaped increased from 3.6 million in 2018 to 5 million in 2019. These shocking numbers, combined with increasing reports of hospitalizations and deaths linked to vaping-related lung injuries, have increased the Administration’s sense of urgency to place tighter regulations on the e-cigarette industry.
What Happens Next?
According the changes proposed by Azar, manufacturers of any flavored e-cigarette products would have to gain FDA approval to resume sales, which would involve proving that the benefits of the products outweigh the risks. The FDA initially set a deadline of 2021 for the agency to require manufacturers to apply for approval while the agency reviewed the safety of the products. However, a judge recently moved that deadline up to July 2020 and the FDA now says that date could be imminent.
In addition, the FDA demanded that JUUL immediately corrects the modified-risk violations or the company will face tougher enforcement actions such as penalties and possible product seizures.
What Led to the FDA’s Warning Letter?
The FDA reviewed testimony from the House Oversight and Reform subcommittee, which had been investigating JUUL’s marketing and promotional practices. In July hearings, JUUL was accused of “deploying a sophisticated program” targeting children and teenagers, including marketing at schools and summer camps, to become the largest seller of e-cigarettes in the country.
The Dangerous Side-Effects of JUUL & E-Cigarette Products
As of September 12, 2019, the Center for Disease Control and Protection has identified over 380 possible cases from 36 states of lung illnesses tied to the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products. So far there have been six confirmed deaths from lung illnesses associated with e-cigarette use.
What Should I Do If My Child Was Harmed After JUUL E-Cigarette Use?
If you or a loved one has been harmed after the use of a JUUL e-cigarette, contact the attorneys at GoldenbergLaw. With over 30 years of experience fighting corporate negligence, we deliver the Gold standard advocacy you deserve.