Eye Roll Alert: Congress announces investigation into teen vaping ‘epidemic’
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois) is only one among many politicians on Capitol Hill who continuously blast the American Vaping industry for alleged violations of underage sales. While most people would agree that the same sorts of infractions occur at a much grander scale within the Big Tobacco market, Krishnamoorthi and his cohorts refuse to give up.
Now that the Democrats have won the majority in the House, the Illinois lawmaker has been promoted to Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. With chairmanship comes the ability to conduct congressional investigations, and the teen vaping “epidemic” just landed a slot on the docket. In a June 10 press release announcing the new probe, Chairman Krishnamoorthi makes the following statement specifically targeting Juul Labs.
“The safety and well-being of America’s youth is not for sale. I am extremely concerned about reports that JUUL’s high nicotine content is fueling addiction and that frequent JUUL use is sending kids across the country into rehab, some as young as 15. At 5% nicotine weight content, your products have nearly three times the nicotine by weight allowed in the European Union.”
The press release also includes a link to a special letter sent to Juul where Krishnamoorthi asks the Vaping Giant to produce a variety of documents dating back as far as 2013, examples of which include:
- Verification of Juul’s “earliest indication” that underage purchases “comprised a substantial share” of its social media engagement.
- Documentation of company research into successful marketing tactics of the past previous employed by Big Tobacco and their possible relevance to the future potential profitability of similar advertising strategies later employed by Juul
- Social media analytics information
- Social media hashtags histories
- Documentation regarding research conducted by Juul-employed behavior scientists as related to on-house marketing and advertising tactics
- Information regarding “every celebrity, influencer, and marketing agency”
For now, the congressional investigation seems to be focusing almost entirely on Juul Labs, but the outcomes will likely affect the vaping industry as a whole. Furthermore, Krishnamoorthi’s fundamental reasoning behind the need for a congressional probe in the first place appears to be almost entirely based on anti-vaping rhetoric originating from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Just last year, Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb labeled teen vaping as a national “epidemic,” even though numerous public health experts have refuted these claims repeatedly. In fact, many of the experts often quote statistical data compiled by none other than the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as proof that the “epidemic” conspiracy theories are just plain wrong.
But there may be more to the story. In April, nearly a dozen Democratic senators also sent a letter to Juul, but this one demanded information behind it’s deal with Altria, the Big Tobacco company which recently purchased a 35% share of Juul Labs.
Is there a teen vaping epidemic conspiracy?
What’s so strange about this whole thing is that Krishnamoorthi and his congressional cronies always seem to ignore the fact that Big Tobacco is a significantly much greater threat to public health than an e-cigarette company ever could be. And what’s more, Big Tobacco has been guilty of selling to teens for decades and with comparatively little political or regulatory repercussions.
So, why are politicians continuously demonizing and trying to eradicate an industry that literally saves millions of people’s lives? The answer to that question may lead to another political conspiracy theory involving Big Pharma. And the plot thickens.
(Image courtesy of C-SPAN)