The vaping and e-cigarette industry has been under quite a bit of scrutiny as of late, mostly surrounding underage use of the devices. Since they are more socially acceptable (due to the lack of smoke emitted) and often marketed as a healthier alternative to ordinary cigarettes, they’re finding a strong user base among teenagers.
E-cigarette and e-liquid maker Juul has been grappling with this issue for some time now. Around this time last year, we reported on the company’s plans to use Bluetooth geofencing to automatically shut down Juul devices around schools; a move the e-cig maker hoped would curb the spread of its products among underage users.
It seems Juul’s efforts have not been enough for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), though. The organization has opened up an investigation into the company, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. The investigation is primarily focused on Juul’s marketing practices, as the FTC feels the company could be engaging in “deceptive” marketing while intentionally targeting minors for sales by hiring “influencers” to promote its products.
Juul, for its part, says its paid influencer program was “never formalized,” and was both “small” and “short-lived.” Specifically, the company claims it paid just under $10,000 to less than 10 adults (over the age of 30) to promote its devices. Apparently, this program ended sometime in 2018, and has not been resurrected since. Further, Juul notes that it “fully [cooperates]” with any government agencies or regulators, and has “never” marketed to underage youth.
It remains to be seen whether or not the FTC will determine that Juul has indeed been intentionally targeting minors, but as underage vaping grows in popularity, it’ll get tougher and tougher for e-cigarette makers in general to fight such investigations.
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