Attorney General Chris Carr is joining Attorneys General from thirty-nine states in an investigation into the marketing and sales practices of the nation’s dominant electronic cigarette manufacturer.
The top law enforcement officials from each state have signed onto the investigation of Juul’s marketing of vaping products to young people and whether it misled on the addictiveness and ability to help people quit smoking tobacco cigarettes. The multi-state investigation is another legal entanglement for an industry that’s facing new federal and state regulations on the devices used by many young people to inhale nicotine-infused liquids.
States across the country are also suing Juul over the same complaints that the company targeted young people with marketing designed to create dependence on nicotine. In 2018, Marlboro-maker Altria purchased a one-third stake in Juul.
Georgia legislators are also targeting the e-cigarette industry this year with bills that propose to tax vaping products, stiffen the penalties for illegal sales to minors and prevent stores from selling nicotine products with candy and super-hero-themed names that could appeal to minors.
Another Senate bill aims to punish students who are caught with vaping products on school campuses and empowers law enforcement to seize the items as contraband. Under the current proposal, a student could face a $25 fine and a misdemeanor charge, although some have argued that the penalties are too harsh.
Juul announced in August it would work to discourage young people from vaping and no longer advertise its products on TV, radio or online. The company said less than 5% of sales in the U.S. were flavored products.
However, a Stanford University study found that Juul’s advertising targeted underage teenagers in during its first six months on the market in 2015. That approach became more nuanced over the next couple of years, according to the report.
The value of Altria’s investment in Juul plummeted by billions of dollars in the past year following a string of lawsuits and other controversies, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.