Juul under federal investigation for marketing practices: report

Juul under federal investigation for marketing practices: report
© Getty Images

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating electronic cigarette giant Juul over possibly deceptive marketing practices, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The FTC is reportedly interested in whether Juul deliberately targeted minors and is looking into the company’s paid influencer program, the Journal reported.

The Hill has reached out to the FTC for comment.

"We fully cooperate and are transparent with any government agency or regulator who have interest in our category," a Juul spokesman said. "We have never marketed to youth."

The company told The Hill that its paid influencer program was a small, short-lived pilot that was never formalized, and ended last year. Juul paid less than $10,000 to fewer than 10 adults who were smokers or former smokers over the age of 30, the spokesman said.

According to the report, the FTC first sent a letter to Juul about its marketing practices last September.

The reported investigation comes as Juul is facing waves of scrutiny over its role in the rapid spike in teen vaping. Vaping among high school student jumped 78 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to federal data, and health officials have threatened e-cigarette companies with possible bans if the trend continues.

State attorneys general, as well as members of Congress, are also investigating the company’s marketing practices. 

Under pressure from the Food and Drug Administration, Juul last year shut down its Facebook and Instagram accounts. The company also pulled most of its fruity flavors from store shelves, and will only sell them online.

Juul has maintained it never marketed to young people. It now focuses its marketing on adult users of traditional cigarettes, offering Juul as an alternative.  

"Our earliest marketing campaign in 2015 was intended for adults in the 25- to 34-year-old demographic and lasted for six months," the company spokesman said, adding that "there is no evidence that it drove use, youth or otherwise. Nonetheless, we regret that the campaign was executed in a way that was perceived as appealing to minors."