HELENA — The Montana Attorney General’s Office announced Tuesday that Montana has joined a bipartisan, multi-state investigation of the e-cigarette maker Juul.
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.
While traditional cigarette use has dropped among Montana’s youth, reports of vaping use has seen a significant increase.
According to the 2019 Montana Youth Risk Survey, more than half of high school students say they’ve tried a vaping product, and 1-in-3 Montana high school students report regularly using e-cigarettes.
“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, multi-state investigation is an important step toward protecting the health of an entire generation of Americans,” Fox added.
Juul first hit the market in 2015 and quickly saw popularity with teen e-cigarette users.
When Capital High journalism students investigated the use of e-cigarettes in their school earlier this year, Juul devices were the majority or the administration's confiscated devices. The vape shop Queen’s Palace in Helena told MTN in December they didn’t carry Juul products because they knew that’s what underage e-cigarette users preferred.
Montana currently has a temporary ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarette products effective until April 15, 2020.
Governor Steve Bullock directed the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to implement the emergency administrative rules due to the rising rates of youth e-cigarette use, and a national outbreak of e-cigarette-related injury and death.