Juul Labs, producer of the e-cigarette and nicotine pods that are extremely popular with young people, announced on Dec. 20 that it will sell a minority stake of its company to Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris USA and producer of Marlboro-branded cigarettes.
The news that Juul will partner with Big Tobacco comes amid reports of skyrocketing rates of youth e-cigarette use, namely Juul, and advisories from the Surgeon General, who last week called youth use of e-cigarettes a national "epidemic."
The following is a statement from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):
"Today's announcement from Juul Labs and Altria Group is likely to be a major setback for the health of our nation. The company responsible for addicting millions of Americans on cigarettes joining with the company that is responsible for the current skyrocketing rates of youth e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction is deeply concerning. The possible co-branding and marketing of these products could seriously erode progress in reducing tobacco-related death and disease.
"As these two deep-pocketed industry giants join forces, the need for comprehensive regulatory oversight from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never been more clear. FDA's recent announcements regarding plans to prohibit menthol flavoring in cigarettes and restrict access to some flavored, kid-friendly e-cigarettes are important steps but the agency must do more. The alarming increases in e-cigarette use among youth, coupled with today's announcement from two companies that prioritize maximizing profits over everything else, illustrate the need for FDA to use its full regulatory authority granted to it under the Tobacco Control Act. The health of our children depends on it."