The state of Connecticut is launching an investigation into how one e-cigarette brand is marketed.
Attorney General William Tong announced on Wednesday that he’s sent a ‘civil investigative demand’ to Juul Labs Incorporated, the makers of Juul e-liquids.
The state is looking at Juul because Tong says that company has the largest share of sales in the e-cigarette market – one Nielsen estimated was 75 percent as of last October. Tong said that Juul markets itself as a smoking cessation product, but that they shouldn’t do so if they aren’t approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
“Connecticut is today taking aggressive action to protect children and families across Connecticut and across this country -- protection against products and marketing efforts that may be designed and targeted for children and that may be intended -- not to help you stop smoking -- but to produce dependency and addiction,” Tong said.
Juul said that its product is not for kids and that the company supports legislation to make it illegal for people under 21 to consume tobacco.
But Tong said e-cigarette use has become a huge issue in schools. He said that one in five high schoolers and one in 20 middle schoolers vape.
“Millions of American high schoolers and middle schoolers now vaping in school, in class, in school bathrooms and I don’t think it is an overstatement to say that this has become an epidemic,” Tong said.
Regarding smoking cessation, Juul Labs spokesperson Ted Kwong told Connecticut Public Radio in a written statement that it’s not his company’s intention to stop nicotine use, rather they want people to “switch” from combustible cigarettes to its e-liquids.
Yale Scientists Find Irritating Chemical Compound In Juul Products
Earlier this week, researchers at Yale University announced they’ve found that e-cigarette users may be inhaling chemicals that aren’t listed on the products and that can make them harmful to people's airways.
The laboratory of Julie Zimmerman, a professor of chemical and environmental engineering at Yale, found that the popular Juul e-cigarette contains a chemical compound called acetal, which, she said isn’t listed on the product bought by consumers.
Those additional chemicals in the product, according to Zimmerman, can interact in unexpected ways.
“Even if Juul labeled what they put in their product when they’re manufacturing it, the idea is that is as these are sitting on shelf, while they’re being handled and stored and transported and sold, they are reacting and the liquids that Juul produced are not the same products that the consumers are using when they buy them,” Zimmerman said.
An earlier study found that compounds irritate the airways of people who inhale e-cigarettes. Now, the researchers are confirming that the compounds are indeed found in certain Juul products.
Hanno Erythropel, an associate research scientist in Zimmerman’s lab, tested cells for the project that contained similar sensory nerves to that of the human airways.
“We don’t really know what happens in the body when you inhale these things for many years,” Erythropel said.
A Juul labs spokesperson disputes the Yale research, arguing that the study assumes consumers are inhaling an unrealistic amount of vapor.
“The researchers' hypothetical exposure analysis failed to take into account real world conditions, including realistic human exposure to vapor products like Juul,” said Ted Kwong.
While the researchers aren’t entirely sure how people will be affected by long-term-use, they do believe that the products can be irritating and therefore, they want their findings to be considered when e-cigarettes are being regulated.