FDA calls out Juul for promoting vaping as safer than cigarettes

The agency also takes issue with how Juul targets certain groups, including students.

Oscar Gonzalez Former staff reporter
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The FDA is putting the pressure on Juul Labs.

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The Food and Drug Administration slammed e-cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs on Monday for marketing that suggested its product is safer than other tobacco products. The agency is also concerned that a company representative told students its e-cigs were "totally safe," according to the students' testimony before Congress. 

A letter from the FDA sent to Juul on Monday says the company sold its e-cigs as "modified risk tobacco products" without receiving an order from the agency. There were also additional concerns cited over the company's marketing that focused on Native American tribes, health insurers and students. 

"JUUL has ignored the law, and very concerningly, has made some of these statements in school to our nation's youth," said acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, in the letter. "Regardless of where products like e-cigarettes fall on the continuum of tobacco product risk, the law is clear that, before marketing tobacco products for reduced risk, companies must demonstrate with scientific evidence that their specific product does in fact pose less risk or is less harmful." 

During a House subcommittee hearing last month on Juul's role in the "youth nicotine epidemic," lawmakers listened to testimony from several individuals who said Juul's marketing said its e-cigs were safer than tobacco. Two high school students also testified saying a representative from the company held a presentation telling the students vaping was "totally safe." 

A spokesperson for Juul Labs says the company is reviewing the letters and will fully cooperate. 

E-cigarette manufacturers are under the US government's magnifying glass over recent deaths that may be related to vaping. Along with the FDA, the Federal Trade Commission also said it would investigate if Juul marketed its product to children.  

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