FDA Threatens Firm Vape Firm Juul With Fines Over Illegal Marketing Practices

Juul vaping products
Signage for Juul vaping products is seen on a storefront in New York City (Photo: Reuters / Andrew Kelly)

The US Food and Drug Administration has accused vaping firm Juul of participating in illegal marketing practices.

The agency mentioned on Monday that the company has and continues to illegally advertise its products to be a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.

The FDA had also threatened to fine the company for its practices and even went as far as to threaten possible seizures of its products if it does not immediately rectify its marketing practices. After having held a two-day hearing in the US House to review testimonies and evidence pertaining to the company's practices, the FDA officially sent out a warning letter to Juul and its CEO Kevin Burns.

The letter contained all of the agency's findings, which stated that it found Juul guilty of breaking the law by falsely marketing its products as safer than other tobacco products without the FDA's approval or review.

According to the FDA, even if Juul's products are found to be safer than cigarettes, the company still needed to demonstrate to the agency using scientific evidence to prove that fact. FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless mentioned in a statement that Juul still should have sought FDA approval prior to the nationwide sale and distribution of its products.  

Sharpless added that Juul had clearly ignored the law when they went ahead and marketed its products to the nation's youth without any kind of regulatory approval. Juul has been selling their vaping devices without ever submitting them for FDA review.

The FDA further pointed out Juul's marketing strategies involving the selling of its devices by sales representatives to students inside US schools. One such occurrence was revealed through testimony from a student who revealed that a Juul sales representative had marketed the company's products inside their school with claims that it was "much safer than cigarettes."  

Under FDA rules, all companies that sell any kind of tobacco products, or in this case products that contain nicotine, should seek regulatory approval before distribution. The FDA has given Juul 15 days to respond to the warning letter.

Apart from the warning letter, the FDA also sent a separate letter on Monday to request additional information regarding the company's marketing practices. This included clarifications on its use of words such as "alternative" and "switch," which seems to suggest that their vaping devices are safer or less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

In response to the FDA's accusations, a Juul spokesperson mentioned in an interview that the company was still reviewing the contents of the two letters. The spokesperson clarified that Juul is willing to fully cooperate with the agency. 

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