For months, Juul Labs has had a clear, unwavering message for officials in Washington: The e-cigarette giant is committed to doing all it can to keep its hugely popular vaping products away from teenagers.
But here in Columbia, the South Carolina capital, and in statehouses and city halls across the country, a vast, new army of Juul lobbyists is aggressively pushing measures that undermine that pledge.
The company’s 80-plus lobbyists in 50 states are fighting proposals to ban flavored e-cigarette pods, which are big draws for teenagers; pushing legislation that includes provisions denying local governments the right to adopt strict vaping controls; and working to make sure that bills to discourage youth vaping do not have stringent enforcement measures.
Though Juul supports numerous state bills that would raise the legal age for buying vaping and tobacco products to 21, some of those bills contain minimal sanctions for retailers. Others fine only the clerks and not the owners for violations.