Federal officials have opened a “deceptive marketing” probe into electronic cigarette maker Juul because of allegations that the company has targeted teens, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Congress and several state attorneys general have also opened their own investigations into Juul.
Neither the Federal Trade Commission or Juul has confirmed the Journal report. But Juul said it would “fully cooperate and is transparent with any government agency or regulator who have interest in our category.”
The company denies it has tried to sell its product to youths.
“Our earliest marketing campaign in 2015 was intended for adults in the 25-34-year-old demographic … we regret that the campaign was executed in a way that was perceived as appealing to minors,” it said.
Juul said it had abandoned its practice of using so-called social media influencers — paid third parties who use tweets and blogs to write about products and other services.
A stop-smoking aid
Electronic cigarettes, or vaping, are intended to be used by smokers who are trying to give up smoking tobacco. But critics say the products appeal to teens because the devices come in fruit and candy flavors.
Juul says it has stopped selling the flavors in traditional stores and has installed new age-verification systems to keep e-cigarettes away from children.
Meanwhile, health officials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are “strongly urging” people to stop vaping because the devices are suspected of causing lung disease.
The officials interviewed 27 people who have become sick with chemical pneumonia and said 89% reported using e-cigarettes.
Their symptoms included shortness of breath, fatigue, coughing and weight loss.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported about 200 cases of lung disease related to vaping in 22 states, including one death in Illinois. (VOA)