(NEW YORK) — Thirty-eight states have joined Connecticut’s investigation into Juul over the company’s health claims and marketing tactics, which officials said are geared toward minors.
The probe is considering company’s marketing and sales practices, claims regarding nicotine content and statements the company made regarding the risks, safety and efficacy as a smoking-cessation device, according to a statement from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong launched the investigation into Juul in July and provided an update Tuesday at the at Hillhouse High School in New Haven.
Several members of the 39-state coalition have sent civil investigative demands or subpoenas to Juul, and more are expected to be sent as the investigation uncovers more information, Tong told reporters.
“I think the best thing Juul can do is respond — fully, forthrightly, transparently — and cooperate with these states,” Tong said.
In November, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a lawsuit against the e-cigarette company over its marketing practices, which she also alleged were geared toward youth. New York was the third state, joining California and North Carolina, to sue Juul for its marketing practices.
There have been 42 deaths and 2,172 confirmed and probable lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarettes or vaping as of Nov. 13, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A total of 46 Connecticut residents were hospitalized with lung injuries associated with the use of e-cigarettes or vaping between August and December of 2019, the Connecticut Department of Public Health reported.
In a statement to ABC News, Juul spokesman Austin Finan said the company’s customer base is 1 billion “adult smokers,” adding that the company does “not intend to attract underage users.”
Juul has taking action by preparing “comprehensive and scientifically rigorous Premarket Tobacco Product Applications,” stopping the sale of flavored pods other than tobacco and menthol in November, halting its television, print and digital advertising and implementing a $1 billion restructuring plan, Finan said.
“We will continue to reset the vapor category in the U.S. and seek to earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with attorneys general, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use and transition adult smokers from combustible cigarettes,” Finan said.
Tong said the investigation would determine whether Juul has “done enough” to mitigate the damage, which he said has already “been done.”
“They dominate 80 to 90% of this marketplace, and we have a youth vaping epidemic that is sweeping the country,” he said. “We need to understand the extent to which they are responsible.
“We’re gonna hold them accountable.”
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