A person smokes a Juul Labs Inc. e-cigarette in this arranged photograph taken in the Brooklyn Borough of New York, U.S.
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House Democrats are pressing e-cigarette leader Juul for a slew of internal documents examining the company’s marketing strategies as part of a broad investigation into the teen vaping epidemic.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, sent a letter to Juul CEO Kevin Burns on Friday, requesting documents related to Juul’s marketing strategies to minors, social media practices, research on Juul’s impact on health and the company’s deal with tobacco giant Altria.
The investigation comes as Juul faces increased scrutiny for its alleged role in the rise of nicotine use among minors.
“The safety and well-being of America’s youth is not for sale,” Krishnamoorthi wrote in the letter. “I am extremely concerned about reports that Juul’s high nicotine content is fueling addiction and that frequent Juul use is sending kids across the country into rehab, some as young as 15.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that tobacco use in high school students rose nearly 40% in the past year, according to the letter. The letter also said e-cigarette use among high school and middle school students across the nation skyrocketed by 78% and 48%, respectively, from 2017 to 2018.
Krishnamoorthi is pointing the blame at Juul for the rise in underage vaping, saying that the high levels of nicotine in Juul’s pods are “sending kids across the country into rehab, some as young as 15.”
In a statement to CNBC, a Juul spokesperson said the company looks forward to “a productive dialogue as we continue to combat youth usage and help adult smokers switch from combustible cigarettes, which remain the leading cause of preventable death around the world.”
“We share the subcommittee’s concerns about youth vaping and welcome the opportunity to share information about our aggressive, industry leading actions to combat youth usage,” the spokesperson said in a statement. The spokesperson added the company has stopped the sale of non-tobacco and non-menthol flavors to their retail partners, enhanced its online age verification system and “strongly” supported legislation that proposes raising the tobacco age to 21 years old.
The company has also shut down its Facebook and Instagram accounts, which some lawmakers said targeted younger consumers.