TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas has been investigating JUUL Labs’ business practices in connection with the skyrocketing rate of youth vaping, Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced Tuesday.
“Today I am taking the unusual step of announcing an ongoing investigation,” said Schmidt, who noted that the ordinary practice of his office is to neither confirm nor deny whether an investigation exists. “Kansas has been investigating JUUL’s business practices for several months and now we have joined in a coalition of state attorneys general to bring a united front. This is the best and most-efficient and effective way to protect the public interest statewide and ensure that any unlawful practices that contributed to the sharp increase in youth vaping are stopped.”
Schmidt said his office is one of 39 state attorneys general now participating in a joint investigation into JUUL’s marketing and sales practices, including targeting of youth, claims regarding nicotine content, and statements regarding risks, safety, and effectiveness as a smoking cessation device.
The bipartisan investigation was announced Tuesday.
While traditional cigarette use has plummeted among youth, vaping is skyrocketing, undermining national progress towards reducing tobacco use. The National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control in 2019 found more than 5 million youth reported having used electronic cigarettes within the past 30 days, up from 3.6 million just one year prior.
The NYTS also found the current rate of youth vaping is now roughly equal to the prevalence of cigarette use by youth at the time of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement in 1998.
“After decades of declining rates of youth nicotine addiction, the trend line has reversed in recent years as vaping products as a nicotine-delivery system have become widespread among high school-aged youth and even many younger kids,” said Schmidt, who noted that JUUL Labs controls about 75 percent of the e-cigarette market nationally. “We are at risk of seeing a new generation become adults already addicted to nicotine, and that is unacceptable.”
Schmidt said he would not characterize the status of the investigation or what the attorneys general have found to date.
“By working together with the vast majority of other states, we can help ensure the investigation is thorough, focused and properly coordinated,” Schmidt said. “As with any similar investigation, we will methodically determine what evidence is available and follow wherever the evidence leads. If the evidence shows illegal conduct, we will take appropriate enforcement action.”