Published: Mon, February 17, 2020
Markets | By Otis Pena

AG Healey Suing JUUL Over Alleged Targeting Of Teens

AG Healey Suing JUUL Over Alleged Targeting Of Teens

"We've suspected that the brand JUUL contributed to the increase of e-cigarette use among teens, but I think we were surprised at the extent of the brand's popularity among young people", noted Mary Hrywna, an assistant professor at the Center for Tobacco Studies and the Rutgers School of Public Health who co-authored the study with Michelle B. Manderski, also from the Center and School of Public Health, and Cristine Delnevo, director of the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies.

"This is the first real window into JUUL's marketing plan and what it meant to do to target our kids", Healey said at a news conference, pointing behind to images of young people holding the company's devices. "Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told Boston's WBUR: "[Juul] figured out how to deliver nicotine more intensely, more rapidly, more deceptively to our young people than any company has ever done in history".

Juul executives declined immediate comment on the lawsuit.

JUUL said it had not yet seen the lawsuit but was working to reduce youth e-cigarette use and become approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Nearly 81% of Twitter users who followed the official Juul Twitter account were between the ages of 13 and 20, according to the lawsuit. IL filed suit on similar grounds in December, and California and NY sued the company in November.

According to Healey's 66-page complaint filed in Superior Court, JUUL purchased advertisements on educational websites geared toward middle school and high school students, such as coolmath.com and socialstudiesforkids.com.

JUUL or companies it hired worked to recruit young social media influencers and celebrities with large online followings, the lawsuit said, including the singer Miley Cyrus and actors Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Jennifer Lawrence.

Healey said Juul "sold and shipped" its e-cigarette products to underage kids in MA through the company's website.

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Massachusetts' attorney general also pointed to the organization's use of social networking celebrities and actors who had a massive following among tweens and teenagers.

The lawsuit said Cult suggested that JUUL should present itself as "a technology company, not a tobacco company" that had achieved "proprietary technological advances in both physics and chemistry".

A lawsuit registered with the MA attorney general Incorporates new information regarding how the firm intentionally promoted illegally to adolescents, such as advertisements on sites for Seventeen Magazine, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.

"Policymakers must understand how certain brands have driven e-cigarette use and carve out policies that address restrictions by age and location as well the high nicotine concentrations in these products if we hope to reduce these prevalence rates", Hrywna concluded.

Juul's sales records also show that it shipped products to legally underage customers, as well as to college dormitories and mailrooms, the complaint says. A 2019 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 10.5% of U.S. middle school students have used e-cigarettes in the past month.

For her part, Healey said the lawsuit is "more than just about money, though we do need money for treatment".

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