The Food and Drug Administration launched a surprise
raid inspection on the headquarters of e-cigarette manufacturer Juul, hauling away hundreds of files related to the company’s sales and marketing tactics. Editor’s note: We were contacted by a representative for the FDA clarifying that the action reported in this article was an inspection, not a raid. We have corrected the piece based on this clarification.
While the inspection took place last Friday, the FDA only announced its intent on Tuesday.
The New York Times reports that Food and Drug Administration is trying to ‘ratchet up pressure’ on Juul, which is among the largest makers and advocates of e-cigarettes in the United States. The company’s advertisements have been oft-criticized as appealing to young users.
Juul currently controls 72% of the American The Food and Drug Administration launched a surprise inspection of the headquarters of e-cigarette manufacturer Juul, hauling away hundreds of files related to the company’s sales and marketing tactics.
Its products have become increasingly popular in high schools and among young adults. Tied into that statistic is the FDA’s allegation that Juul has been intentionally targeting minors as potential consumers.
“The new and highly disturbing data we have on youth use demonstrates plainly that e-cigarettes are creating an epidemic of regular nicotine use among teens,” said the FDA in a statement. “It is vital that we take action to understand and address the particular appeal of, and ease of access to, these products among kids.”
Federal officials say the ‘surprise inspection’ serves as a follow-up to a document request made in April. That request, claims Juul chief executive officer Kevin Burns, was quickly served: the company says it handed over ‘more than 50,000 pages of internal documents’ to the FDA.
“We’re committed to prevent underage use, and we want to engage with FDA, lawmakers, public health advocates and others to keep JUUL out of the hands of young people,” said Burns.
The agency’s focus on e-cigarettes follows intense scrutiny from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who said product use has reached “epidemic proportions.”
According to the New York Times, ‘the number of high school students who used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days has risen roughly 75 percent since last year to about three million.’
Gottlieb has suggested that ‘candy-like names’ and the sweet flavors comprising liquid nicotine seems intended to attract underage consumers.
While Juul and other e-cigarette manufacturers say their products provide a safer alternative to cigarettes, studies suggest that nicotine addiction can invite trespasses. A RAND Corporation study of Californians between the ages of 16 to 20 found that teenagers who ‘vape’ are more likely to smoke ordinary cigarettes as they get older.
By the end of the RAND Corporation’s study period, more than half the e-cigarette users surveyed were also smoking cigarettes.
Undercover law enforcement investigations staged over the summer purportedly found that ‘many’ national retailers, like Walgreens and 7-Eleven, illegally sell Juul products to minors.
The investigation prompted the FDA to send numerous warning letters to Juul, along with demands that the company create an action plan to keep its e-cigarettes away from kids.
“We see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion, and we must adjust certain aspects of our comprehensive strategy to stem this clear and present danger,” Gottlieb said.