Juul went into a ninth-grade classroom and called its device ‘totally safe,’ teens testify
By Arman Azad, July 25, 2019
(CNN)A Juul representative repeatedly told a ninth-grade classroom that the company’s e-cigarette was “totally safe” before showing underage students the device, according to two teenagers who testified under oath to Congress on Wednesday.
The comments came at the first of two hearings organized by the House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy to “examine [Juul’s] responsibility for the youth nicotine addiction epidemic.”
Company executives, including Juul’s co-founder, are also expected to testify. [One question we’d ask: “What is a nicotene marketer doing in a public school?]
One of the teens who testified on Wednesday, 17-year-old Caleb Mintz, said a Juul representative spoke to his class as part a “mental health [and] addiction seminar” where teachers were asked to leave the room.
The representative mentioned his connection to Juul, Mintz said, and the comments on e-cigarette safety were met with a “sigh of relief” among his classmates who were already vaping.
‘Very disturbing behavior, to say the least’
In a statement, Juul said the presentation was part of a “short-lived Education and Youth Prevention Program which was ended in September 2018 after its purpose — to educate youth on the dangers of nicotine addiction — was clearly misconstrued.”
But experts say that Juul itself contributed to epidemic-levels of vaping among teens, in part by raising nicotine levels and triggering an “arms race” of the addictive chemical.
“I believe the presenter was sending mixed messages by saying Juul was ‘totally safe’ and following up every totally safe statement with ‘but we don’t want you as customers,’ ” said Mintz.
“I believe that the presenter was playing on the rebellious side of teens,” he added, “where when teens are told not to do something, they are more likely to do it.”
Mintz’s friend, 16-year-old Phillip Fuhrman, testified that he was addicted to Juul at the time of the incident, which occurred in April 2018 … Read more.