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FDA slams vaping company Juul in new letter. Here’s why

The FDA threatened to fine the company and seize its products if it doesn’t fix the marketing.

FILE - In this Dec. 20, 2018, file photo Juul products are displayed at a smoke shop in New York. Under scrutiny amid a wave of underage vaping, Juul is pushing into television with a multimillion-dollar campaign rebranding itself as a stop-smoking aid fo
In this Dec. 20, 2018, file photo, Juul products are displayed at a smoke shop in New York.
Seth Wenig

The Food and Drug Administration slammed vaping company Juul Monday for illegally marketing their nicotine pods as a safer product than cigarettes, according to CNBC.

The FDA threatened to fine the company and seize its products if it doesn’t fix the marketing.

“Regardless of where products like e-cigarettes fall on the continuum of tobacco product risk, the law is clear that, before marketing tobacco products for reduced risk, companies must demonstrate with scientific evidence that their specific product does in fact pose less risk or is less harmful. JUUL has ignored the law, and very concerningly, has made some of these statements in school to our nation’s youth,” Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said in a statement.

“We will continue to scrutinize tobacco product marketing and take action as appropriate to ensure that the public is not misled into believing a certain product has been proven less risky or less harmful,” he said. “We’ve also put the industry on notice: If the disturbing rise in youth e-cigarette use continues, especially through the use of flavors that appeal to kids, we’ll take even more aggressive action.”

The FDA requires companies to receive approval before they market any product as better for you than cigarettes, according to CNBC. Juul never submitted its products to the FDA.

Now Juul only has 15 days to respond to the warning letter.

The FDA sent a letter to Juul CEO Kevin Burns that said Juul broke the law “by selling or distributing them as modified risk tobacco products without an FDA order in effect that permits such sale or distribution.”

The FDA has requested any documents connected to marketing, which might include data and evidence “related to whether these statements and representations explicitly or implicitly convey that JUUL products pose less risk, are less harmful, present reduced exposure, are safer than other tobacco products or that the products are smoking cessation products.”

Per CNN, the FDA revealed in November that vaping ascended among teenagers, with 80% of high schoolers and almost half of all middle schoolers using the product, compared to the years prior.

Experts suggest Juul has led to the increase since it runs nearly 75% of the vaping market.

Public health officials have identified hundreds of cases across the country where people have suffered from severe lung illnesses that might be tied to vaping, according to The New York Times.

But the FDA said much of the risk comes from buying products from bootleggers.

Mitch Zeller, director for the Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA, told The New York Times: “If you’re thinking of purchasing one of these products off the street, out of the back of a car, out of a trunk, in an alley, or if you’re going to then go home and make modifications to the product yourself using something that you purchased from some third party or got from a friend, think twice.”