Iowa attorney general Tom Miller will head Juul Labs’ effort to keep e-cigarettes from under-21s in the US.
E-cig company Juul last week committed $30m over the next three years to fund research and create an expert panel to keep young people from using its products, following the announcement by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of an enforcement “blitz” against sales to minors, in which the agency singled out Juul.
Miller, who will chair the expert panel in addition to his legal duties for the state of Iowa, describes it as a new opportunity for regulators.
He said: “Juul executives have stated from the start that they do not want kids using the product. They sell directly only to people age 21 and older.
“It is important to see this issue in context. Juul is very appealing to both adults and kids and is being used by kids in schools and many other places. It is cause for concern. But it has not reached panic or epidemic stages.
“The best indicator of this is the only good data available on youth use of Juul – that provided by the Truth Initiative. For 15-to-17-year-olds, only 7% have ever tried or used Juul in their lifetimes. And Juul use is concentrated in higher socio-economic areas.”
Juul’s “comprehensive strategy to combat underage use” is the company’s response to the FDA’s enforcement “blitz”, revealed last week.
Juul has agreed to support Tobacco 21 measures – legislation to raise the minimum age for buying tobacco to 21 – at both state and federal level.
While stressing the possible public health gains from its products, Juul CEO Kevin Burns said: “We cannot be more emphatic on this point: no young person or non-nicotine user should ever try Juul.”
What This Means: Juul Labs has acquired a reputation as a Pied Piper of e-cigs. The degree of media coverage of the Juul as a youth phenomenon makes it a visible test of the vapour industry on youth uptake. This presents an opportunity for the industry to show that it can police itself and continue good relations with the FDA. That in turn may encourage the FDA to use more carrot and less stick in its interactions with the industry, which it has shown a willingness to do.
– Daniel Mollenkamp ECigIntelligence staff