Juul Attempted To Court AGs Amid Investigation
Company Attempted To Donate To Campaign Funds And Lobby State Attorneys General Following An Investigation Into Their Marketing Practices
Over the past year, the United States vapor industry has faced particular scrutiny in the press and by lawmakers. This new scrutiny comes following concerns over youth access, as well as outbreaks of lung injuries initially misattributed to nicotine vapor products.
A coalition of 39 states throughout the country is actively investigating the marketing and sales practices of Juul Labs. This coalition is investigating whether or not the company’s ads directly targeted youth, and whether they made misleading claims about the nicotine content of their products.
A report by the Associated Press found that leading up to the announcement of the multi-state investigation, the company had actively attempted to lobby and donate to the campaigns of state attorneys general throughout the country. The report highlights the influence campaign the company engaged in, as well as highlighting the advocacy roles that current and former attorneys general had on behalf of the company.
The company’s access and lobbying appear to have not managed to mitigate litigation thus far, despite their best efforts. Nine of the 39 states have already filed lawsuits against Juul labs, with more expected to join as the investigation continues to unfold.
A report shed new light on the lobbying efforts and unusual political relationships of Juul Labs, manufacturer of the controversial Juul vaporizer. The report, by the Associated Press, uncovered several previously unreported political meetings and connections the company had with state attorneys general throughout the country.
The company had forged an interesting and unusual relationship with Iowa’s Tom Miller, the longest-serving state AG in US history. Open records requests to Miller’s office uncovered that he acted as a behind-the-scenes adviser for the company, consulting the company on how to engage with media requests and government officials.
The report also uncovers the advocacy roles that the former attorneys general of Massachusetts and Rhode Island had for the company. The two, Patrick Lynch and Martha Coakley, were initially hired as consultants, but ultimately used their own access to directly lobby government officials on behalf of the company.
In addition to these political connections to the company, the report also highlights the connections between campaign donations and access with lawmakers. Donations by the Juul political action committee bought the company access to private one-on-one meetings to directly lobby lawmakers, as well as access to semiannual executive retreats attended by state attorneys general and their staff.
Vaping has faced intense scrutiny by lawmakers following claims of teenage epidemic usage. However, research from the NYU School of Global Public Health found that most teens don’t actually vape. The study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, found that over 85% of teens do not vape at all and that even the few that do are not daily users.
In an article published in the journal Science, a group of respected public health experts banded together to speak out against prohibitive policies and restrictive regulations targeting vaping. These experts note that there is currently no evidence that vaping is harmful, and that such policies may force smokers back toward tobacco, or even the black market.
The group also noted vaping’s value as a smoking cessation aid, and the reduced harm it poses compared to smoking. An example of vaping’s efficacy in aiding smoking cessation is a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found that vaping was more effective than other nicotine-replacement therapies in helping adults not only quit smoking but remain tobacco-free.
In addition to its remarkable efficacy as a smoking cessation aid, research has repeatedly affirmed the reduced harm vaping poses when compared to smoking. A key example being landmark research from Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, which each found that vaping is actually 95% and 93% safer than smoking, respectively.
The AP report highlights an issue with money and political influence among some AGs in the US. The report also sheds light on the questionable lobbying efforts of Juul Labs to attempt to stifle any pending investigations or litigation.
While concerns over access to state attorneys general following donations to their reelection efforts are valid, they appear to have yielded few if any benefits for the company. As mentioned, 9 out of the 39 state coalition have already announced lawsuits against the company, with more expected to follow as the investigation continues.
What are your thoughts regarding the lobbying efforts and political relationships of Juul Labs? Do you have concerns over the company’s prior marketing practices? We would love to hear from you in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
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