Last July, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced that her office began investigating Juul Labs, Inc. and other online e-cigarette retailers that sell JUUL over concerns about the marketing and sale of electronic smoking devices and products to youth. On February 12, 2020, members of HRiA’s Fight All Flavors team and young people from The 84 attended a press conference at the Attorney General’s office where she announced the findings of her investigation.
AG Healey confirmed what we strongly suspected; internal industry documents describe intentional and deceptive marketing practices toward young people:
- Showed young, fashionable models and influencers like Miley Cyrus and Cara Delevigne using vape products in its ads.
- Purchased ad space on websites for young people like Nickelodeon, Seventeen, and even CoolMathGames.com. They targeted those as young as preschool age.
- Sent email marketing to age-unverified website visitors; up to 80% of its email list could not meet age verification requirements, but they sent marketing materials anyway.
- Claimed this to be a safer alternative for individuals already using cigarettes, but AG Healy’s investigation shows this is not true; a harm reduction campaign was created yet rejected in favor of those targeting young people who had never smoked.
While the products and marketing channels have changed somewhat over the decades, the industry’s approaches have not. HRiA applauds Attorney General Healey for her leadership on this issue and is proud to be part of the movement of communities fighting back.
Over the last decade, we have trained thousands of Massachusetts youth through The 84 movement to educate decision-makers in their communities about tobacco industry marketing tactics and, in particular, the industry’s use of flavors to get young people addicted to nicotine. Last year, our Fight All Flavors team mobilized community support in Boston and statewide to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products. This spring, we are working with communities in Boston and beyond to prepare for the implementation of the law on June 1, 2020.
We stand with the Attorney General and will continue our efforts to curb youth vaping and tobacco use in Massachusetts.