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The FTC is reportedly investigating Juul's marketing practices



Juul products appear in a smoke store in New York, Thursday, December 20, 2018.

Seth Wenig | AP

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether e-cigarette maker Juul used deceptive marketing and targeted minors, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the investigation.

The FTC is considering seeking financial damages, the journal reported, citing one of the people. The FTC began its investigation in September 201

8, reports the Journal, before tobacco giant Altria invested $ 12.8 billion for a 35% stake in Juul. Shares of Altria slipped 2% Thursday. Juul is privately owned.

Regulators have criticized Juul for running a teenage vaping "epidemic", investigating the company's early advertising campaigns that used young models and bright colors. Critics say the images positioned Juul as a lifestyle brand and attracted young people.

Juul, who would not comment on the investigation, said in a statement that it cooperates fully "and is transparent with any government agency or regulator who is interested in our category." and that the 2015 ad campaign, known as "Vaporized," "was intended for adults in the 25-34 year-old demographic and lasted six months."

"If you look at the sales and revenue data, there is no evidence that it operated, youth or otherwise," the company said. "We regret, however, that the campaign was executed in a way that was perceived as appealing to minors."

The FTC declined to comment.

The Food and Drug Administration began its own investigation into the company's marketing practices last year, marked by a "surprise inspection" last fall at Juul's headquarters in San Francisco, where investigators seized thousands of pages of documents.

A sub-committee in the House examined Juul's role in the youth apparatus last month. A lawsuit is popping up around the country accusing Juul of cheating children and hooking them on nicotine.

Read the whole thing here.


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