Business & Lobbying

Juul’s lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes


A recent lobbying and spending blitz by Juul Labs was dealt a serious blow this week when the Trump administration announced it would move to ban flavored e-cigarettes.

The company spent $1.95 million on lobbying in the first two quarters of 2019, surpassing last year’s total of $1.64 million.

{mosads}“It shows you that just spending money on lobbying doesn’t create magic results. This is an un-exact science when it comes to lobbying and Juul has found that out. Anything can happen at any time no matter how many resources you put into lobbying,” said David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

He added that Juul is likely to focus even more efforts on lobbying and expanding its operation to focus on the executive branch.

“I think they were focused on Congress and the Hill. I think they knew there was probably a slight possibility something would happen in the executive branch, but I think they were taken by surprise by this,” Williams said.

Juul’s PAC has donated more than $64,000 to Democratic candidates and $105,000 to Republicans so far in 2019, according to Federal Election Commission figures.

“We strongly agree with the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavored products,” Juul spokesman Ted Kwong said. “We will fully comply with the final FDA policy when effective.”

The American Vaping Association, a nonprofit that advocates for sensible regulation of vaping products, had harsh words for Juul.

“JUUL behaved like spineless losers desperately searching for any sort of friendship and they were treated like losers by elected officials in D.C. as a result. No politician wants to stand up for a company that has shown time and time again that they will fold and sell their customers down the river when things get tough,” President Gregory Conley told The Hill.

When reached for comment, Kwong referred back to his earlier statement.

In August, Juul left the Vapor Technology Association, the advocacy group for the vapor and e-cigarette industry, over a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The association’s lawsuit seeks to prevent the FDA from enforcing its new May 2020 deadline for manufacturers to submit a premarket tobacco product application for vapor products with nicotine. It sued to delay the deadline to avoid the negative impact it could have on smaller vaping companies.

President Trump’s announcement from the Oval Office on Wednesday came after the sixth vaping-related death was made public. Two days earlier, the FDA said Juul illegally marketed its products as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.

Health advocates applauded the administration’s decision and the pressure it puts on Juul to reduce teen vaping.

“We urge the FDA to act swiftly given the growing youth e-cigarette epidemic and the significant role that flavors play in youth initiation. It’s time to end this chemistry experiment on our youth and for the FDA to use its authority to fully regulate e-cigarettes without further delay and interference from JUUL and the tobacco industry,” said Robin Koval, CEO of Truth Initiative, a nonprofit public health group pushing youth to reject tobacco.

Juul has said it is trying to reduce youth vaping by stopping the retail sale of some products, shutting down its Facebook and Instagram accounts and beefing up online age verification.

The company also backs legislation to raise the smoking age to 21.

Despite giving nearly $170,000 to lawmakers this year — a pace that would exceed the $225,000 it contributed during the 2018 election cycle — experts say Juul is likely to spend even more money in Washington.

“I think they probably will spend more money because they can’t take their eye off the Hill and members of Congress. Now they need to just open another line of lobbying, that’s the executive branch, that’s the FDA. This is more of an expansion rather than a shift,” Williams said.

Tags Donald Trump e-cigarettes FDA Juul Nicotine vaping
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