Montana Joins Multi-State Investigation of E-Cigarette Maker JUUL
Attorney General Tim Fox announced today Montana has joined a bipartisan, multistate investigation of JUUL Labs. The 39-state coalition is investigating JUUL’s marketing and sales practices, including its targeting of youth, claims regarding nicotine content, and statements regarding risks, safety, and effectiveness as a smoking cessation device.
“E-cigarettes are often marketed to kids as harmless, with an emphasis on appealing flavors that mask their addictive nicotine content. As a result, e-cigarette use has reached epidemic levels among Montana’s young people,“ Attorney General Tim Fox said. “Our rate of youth vaping is six times that of adults, and last year, nearly 42 percent of Montana’s high school seniors reported they used a vapor product. JUUL has a 60-70% share of the country’s e-cigarette market, and this bipartisan, multistate investigation is an important step toward protecting the health of an entire generation of Americans,” Fox added.
E-cigarettes, the use of which is often referred to as “vaping,” are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine to the user by heating liquid nicotine, derived from tobacco plants, along with flavors and other chemicals, into a vapor that the user inhales. Often e-cigarettes feature fruit and candy flavors, and the marketing has included cartoon characters and other imagery clearly targeted at a younger audience.
While traditional cigarette use has plummeted among Montana’s youth, vaping is skyrocketing. According to the 2019 Montana Youth Risk Survey, 30.2% of the state’s young people reported using e-cigarettes; more than the national average of their peers at 27%. Survey results indicate 58% of Montana’s high school students have ever used a vapor product; 30.2% currently use a vapor product; and 12.7% have used a vapor product 20 out of the last 30 days. By comparison, 1.5% of the state’s high schoolers have smoked 20 out of the last 30 days. The survey shows an increase in students currently vaping up from 22.5% in 2017 to 30.2% in 2019, and an increase in vaping 20 of the last 30 days from 3.7% in 2017 to 12.7% in 2019.
No electronic (liquid) cigarette has yet been approved by the FDA. In the 2015 Legislative Session, Fox brought a bill to prohibit their sale to minors. SB 66 was sponsored by Sen. Diane Sands of Missoula and signed by the governor on April 28, 2015. The law took effect on January 1, 2016.