Since coming under major scrutiny for many marketing scandals, leading e-cigarette company JUUL has begun looking to enter new markets in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, and Asia. JUUL, the well-known and highly scrutinized vaping company, has recently begun meeting with international governments to express interest in moving their products into these new markets. As a November 21 Bureau of Investigative Journalism report details, the company has begun to spend millions of dollars on lobbying in these areas in an attempt to pre-empt or roll back regulations on vaping and e-cigarette products. The company is hoping to prevent the sort of regulations that have plagued their products here in the United States.
In recent months, JUUL has come under immense pressure in the US. The company has faced hundreds of lawsuits, along with being raided by the FDA. The company has faced scandals around their marketing tactics, causing the company’s overall value to plummet from $38 billion in 2018 to $12 billion in 2020. One way that the company can make up for these lost profits is by spreading into international markets where they can use marketing techniques and advertising pitches that have been deemed illegal by the FDA in the US.
At meetings with officials from developing countries such Vietnam, JUUL is offering legislators the opportunity to have JUUL assist with the writing of regulations around vaping. Yet this kind of regulatory interference is banned under international treaties on public health.
The full details of this story have only been reported by smaller, independent news sources such as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Most corporate media have reported solely on JUUL’s marketing tactics and legal troubles in the US. Recently, there have been a handful of reports from sources like the Wall Street Journal and NPR about JUUL’s international business. However, at least some of this coverage has concerned the stepping down of two executives that were in charge of the international growth of the company and not the larger issues that were the focus of the BIJ report.
Source: Madlen Davies, Jana Kasperkevic, and Matthew Chapman, “Juul Spreads over the World as Home Market Collapses in Scandal,” Bureau of Investigative Journalism, November 21, 2019, https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2019-11-21/juul-spreads-over-the-world-as-home-market-collapses-in-scandal.
Student Researcher: Justin Pero (University of Vermont)
Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams (University of Vermont)