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Domenic B. Sanginiti, Jr. is an associate and member of the Accident & Personal Injury Group.

The FDA recently added “seizures” as a possible danger associated with vaping after reviewing 127 cases that reference e-cigarettes as a possible causal factor. Reports indicate that seizures have occurred “after a few puffs or even up to one day after use” of e-cigarettes. The seizure investigation is part of an ongoing scientific evaluation of e-cigarette safety.

The FDA is currently working to “identify common risk factors” and determine whether any specific e-cigarette product attributes, such as nicotine content or formulation, may be more likely to contribute to seizures.


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A recent New York Times opinion article by Former FDA Commissioner (1990-1997), David A. Kesslerm, states the Juul e-cigarette design appeals to kids. Kesslerm opines the product design matches the “tobacco playbook” by decreasing the harshness of the nicotine and inhaling effect to increase use in new smokers.

Kesslerm cited tobacco industry documents from the fifties that revealed an insidious strategy to design such products to draw in new users. The internal studies revealed “product design changes that make cigarettes more palatable, easier to smoke, or more addictive are also likely to encourage greater uptake of smoking.” Kesslerm asserts this is exactly the type of product created by Juul, which added organic acids to decrease harshness from the higher nicotine content.


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San Francisco Mayor London Breed officially signed the ban on e-cigarette sales within city limits. The City is set to implement the ordinance within approximately 7 months. Juul, which claims more than 70% of the e-cigarette market, is trying to fight the City with a ballot initiative to roll back the new rule. Juul and other e-cigarette proponents claim the new ordinance will hurt local businesses and force people back to smoking traditional cigarettes.

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BMJ’s journal, Tobacco Control, just released a study recommending that the FDA do more to control Juul’s e-cigarette advertising in social media. The study included review of over 15000 posts in a three-month period during 2018. Approximately 30% of reviewed posts were promotional, e.g., leading to Juul purchase locations, and over half the posts included “youth” and “youth lifestyle” themes. Because many of these posts were re-posts or user-generated, rather than ads specifically placed by Juul, the company protested that 99% were third-party content over which Juul had no control. However, the intended goal for social media advertising is to “share” and to inspire creation of third-party user-generated content that is also shared. Juul’s public comments weirdly suggest they don’t understand social media advertising. That is quite unlikely.

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On the heels of San Francisco announcing a full ban on sales of e-cigarettes, the State of Vermont announced its own plan for e-cigarette control — a 92% tax. The bill, supported by Gov. Phil Scott, has passed the house and now moves on to the Senate for approval. The state predicts the increased price will decrease purchases by underage users.

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San Francisco made a bold move this week, voting to ban the sale and delivery of Juul and other e-cigarettes in its city. The mayor of San Francisco is expected to sign the proposed ban, which would then take effect in 2020. San Francisco is the first city in the U.S. to embrace serious regulation of e-cigarettes, which has been compared to the Big Tobacco regulation fights of the not-so-distant past.

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Just like the traditional tobacco industry, Juul has started to issue grants to study the effects of e-cigarettes on users. Back in the bad, old tobacco days, almost all research was funded by tobacco companies through the Council for Tobacco Research (CTR) and the Center for Indoor Air Research (CIAR). Both companies were included in fraud cases against the industry. After a settlement in 1998, the tobacco industry started funding private groups. Much of that funding was undisclosed in study results, suggesting there might be a conflict of interest.

So…is Juul, a company heavily funded by big tobacco, the same? Or is this highly successful, private interest, for-profit company an altruistic anomaly?


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In a time when most companies are moving sales to the internet, Juul is apparently exploring opening brick and mortar stores to sell its controversial e-cigarette products. Valued at approximately $38 billion (since investment from big tobacco company, Altria), Juul can afford to test new distribution outlets. The first launches are rumored to open in Texas and South Korea.

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