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US Lawmakers Question E-Cigarette Company Juul Over Campaigns Targeted at Schoolchildren

E-cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs funded a “holistic health education” camp as a part of efforts to market straight to school-aged kids, members of a U.S. congressional committee said on Thursday, citing internal firm documents.

Democrats on a panel of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform released a cache of internal Juul emails and several documents that committee workers described as early attempts to “enter schools and convey messaging directly to teenagers.”

Juul’s use of social media celebrities to promote its vaping units in the years after it released in 2015 also came under investigation.

James Monsees, Juul’s co-founder, informed the committee that the corporate’s target audience from the start had been grownup cigarette smokers.

Among efforts cited in the Juul documents revealed were a $134,000 payment to arrange a five-week “holistic health training” summer camp at a Maryland charter school, recruiting youngsters from third to12th grades, and offering $10,000 to schools employing the corporate’s “youth prevention and training” programs for students, along with those caught utilizing e-cigarette products.

Several panel members stated Juul’s initiatives appeared similar to past efforts by the tobacco trade to reach younger people under the form of smoking prevention programs. Gould said Juul, which is 35% owned by Marlboro maker Altria Group, halted its program last year once it became aware of the tobacco business’s earlier moves.

Members of the committee further questioned Gould and Monsees over the use of social media influencers to advertise Juul’s vaping units.

Company executives early agreed that “younger customers age 25 to 34 was going to be the target of our initial marketing campaign,” Monsees said. “They’d be more receptive to new expertise solutions,” such as the Juul device.

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