Setting the stage for a new epidemic targeting youth and communities of color for a lifetime of addiction

Juul Labs is a three-year-old e-cigarette tech startup valued at more than $38 billion that now accounts for more than 75% of all U.S. e-cigarette sales. It has succeeded in creating epidemic levels of use among youth thanks to an extremely addictive product, questionable marketing practices, savvy use of social media influencers to lure others in, and sleek discreet packaging that resembles a USB memory stick.

Big Tobacco giant Altria (parent company of Philip Morris) recently invested around $13 billion for a 35% stake in the company. Altria is a convicted racketeer found to have engaged in decades of lying to the American public about the health hazards of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.

New research indicates that tobacco companies are investing into emerging products like e-cigarettes as a way to slow declines in tobacco use.

Using Juul or other vaping products isn’t safe. E-Cigarettes cause health damage and can lead to a lifetime of nicotine dependence.

 

Racketeers in the Making

Some e-cigarette sellers, including Juul, initially wanted to distinguish themselves from Big Tobacco. While some argue that the e-cigarette industry is not Big Tobacco, it is on the precipice of becoming just that. They are racketeers in the making, including crossover of front groups, lawyers, lobbyists, retailers, distributors, and a pattern of public health interference.

Big Tobacco and Marijuana

In addition to investing in Juul, Altria also recently invested $1.8 billion into cannabis company Cronos Group. With this deal, recreational marijuana is now part of Big Tobacco’s portfolio, and it will seek to maximize product consumption and grow markets to obtain maximum profits. Once-secret tobacco documents show that the industry made plans decades ago to combine the addictiveness of nicotine with the high of THC. See our marijuana fact sheet.

Still Killing People for Profit

Philip Morris International’s “Smoke-Free” Manifesto in early 2018 is part of the industry’s attempt to seem like a legitimate business. The fact is tobacco companies are not like other corporations. They are pariahs. Tobacco companies are by far the number one cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S. and around the world. PMI’s “Foundation for a Smoke-free World” is nothing more than a front for promoting e-cigarettes and sustaining a generation addicted to nicotine.

According to the World Health Organization, tobacco kills more than 7 million people each year. More than 6 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use, while around 890,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to secondhand smoke.