The Texas Medical Association, along with numerous state health organizations, applauded Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s recent announcement of a multi-state investigation into the marketing and sales practices of JUUL Labs, which makes popular e-cigarette devices.
“With this decision, the Office of the Attorney General has signaled clearly to the tobacco industry that Texas does not welcome their efforts to addict children to nicotine,” the Texas Public Health Coalition – of which TMA is a member – wrote to Attorney General Paxton.
In a statement late last month, General Paxton said the investigation will focus on “JUUL’s marketing and sales practices, including targeting underage users, claims about the nicotine content of its products, and statements regarding the risks, safety, and effectiveness as a smoking cessation device.”
The rise in e-cigarette use in the U.S. and Texas, particularly among teenagers, has become a growing public health concern.
As of late last month, state health officials have identified 250 Texas cases of severe lung disease – called EVALI – in people who report vaping, including four deaths. About one-quarter of the people affected in Texas are minors, the Department of State Health Services said.
“While JUUL Labs and other vapor product manufacturers deny interest in attracting underage users, their products are optimized to appeal to children with fruit and candy-like flavors and easily concealed designs,” the coalition letter says. “Advertising campaigns featuring young models and unproven claims of relative safety are recognizable marketing tactics from the tobacco industry playbook. These activities undermine the best efforts of parents, schools, and health professionals to keep Texas children away from nicotine and on the path to a healthy future.”
Thanks to TMA advocacy, lawmakers last year passed a law that raises the minimum age to buy tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21 (except for military personnel).
In its letter, the Public Health Coalition praised General Paxton for the investigation, and urged him to look at other e-cigarette manufacturers, which “are long due for scrutiny and accountability.”
The Public Health Coalition comprises more than 30 health professional organizations and health-focused organizations, including TMA, that are dedicated to disease prevention and health promotion.