RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia has joined a multistate investigation of electronic cigarette giant JUUL Labs, concerning their marketing, sales practices, and claims regarding nicotine content.
Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced Tuesday he has joined the 39-state coalition which is investigating JUUL’s sales practices, including the targeting of youth and statements regarding the risks, safety, and efficacy as a smoking cessation device.
The company has been hit by this investigation amid an explosion of underage vaping among teenagers.
“One of the things we will be looking at are the techniques that JULL used that may have been directed toward young people. Whether it's through social media, influencers, flavors and other to try to expand into the youth market. That should be of deep concern to everyone,” said Herring.
“The number of young people in Virginia and across the country who are vaping or using e-cigarettes is truly a public health crisis," Herring added. "While we have made great strides in reducing the number of young people who use more traditional tobacco-based products, we are now, unfortunately, seeing the number of Virginia teens vaping and using e-cigarettes climb at an alarming rate."
In 2017 teen cigarette use in Virginia was at an all-time low at 6.5 percent, but at least 11.8 percent of teens said that they currently vaped or used e-cigarettes, and that number continues to rise, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
“This investigation is just one of the many approaches we must take as a society to stop this growing youth vaping epidemic,” said Herring.
Richmond-based Altria bought a 35% stake in Juul in 2018 for about $13 billion.
Vaping statistics worry Chesterfield parent, community advocate
Chesterfield parent and community advocate Regina Whitsett runs Substance Abuse Free Environment (SAFE), an organization working to prevent substance abuse. Among the youth.
Every two years the organization takes a snapshot of Chesterfield’s 8th, 10th and 12th graders through a prevention needs assessment.
The latest one revealed among Chesterfield students, vaping surpassed alcohol and is now the most abused substance.
“With our survey date, it actually shows 8th graders almost doubled the percentage of students trying e-cigarettes for the first time,” said Whitsett. “We've actually heard form youth that they didn't think nicotine was in the product.”
Which is why Whitsett says educating the community must continue. She hopes their findings and will snag more parents' attention and prompt them to get involved.