North Carolina Sues e-Cigarette Manufacturer - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

E-cigarette manufacturers have gotten into plenty of hot water lately, particularly with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s most recent campaigns against them. A federal judge ruled in mid-May that the FDA needs to regulate the thousands of types of e-cigarettes on the market, saying that the agency dodged its legal duty by postponing reviewing them for several years.

The fact is that e-cigarettes are dangerous, as anyone with a modicum of common sense can tell you – and it looks like many public health groups have caught on to the fact that they’re being marketed to children.

In fact, the state of North Carolina – not always known for its common-sense laws or consumer protections, but definitely known for its tobacco production – is suing e-cigarette manufacturer Juul. The state’s attorney general said that e-cigarette use is an “epidemic” among the state’s youth, and they’re not taking it any more.

Josh Stein, the state’s attorney, said at a press conference, “Juul entered the market with the highest nicotine potency of any product. Meanwhile Juul understated the strength of the nicotine in each pod, downplaying its risks.” He added that the reason teens are more likely to use Juul than the people it’s intended for – those in the 18-and-up set – is because these vaping liquids come in fruit and dessert-like flavors that serve to entice children to the product.”

Not so with traditional cigarettes, which come in menthol and regular tobacco flavors.

And perhaps that’s why around 17 percent of North Carolina’s high schoolers reported using e-cigarettes in 2017.

“In a span of six years we’ve seen a 900 percent increase in high school students reporting that they are using e-cigarettes. In 2017, about 17 percent of high schoolers reported using e-cigarettes, and that I’m confident is an underestimate, given the marketing that we’ve seen,” said Susan Kansagra, a doctor who works with the North Carolina Department of Public Health. She added that in middle school, they’ve seen a 400 percent increase in e-cigarette use.

The company also claims to be concerned about youth use of its products. It issued a statement that reads, “We stopped the sale of non-tobacco and non-menthol based flavored JUULpods to our traditional retail store partners, enhanced our online age-verification process, strengthened our retailer compliance program with over 2,000 secret shopper visits per month, and shut down our Facebook and Instagram accounts while working constantly to remove inappropriate social media content generated by others on those platforms.”

What Do You Think?

Have you noticed an increase in kids vaping? What do you think manufacturers, states and the federal government should do about it? I’d love for you to share your thoughts on this, so join me on Facebook or on Twitter and chime in!

Carlos Gamino