U.S. FDA warns Juul over its marketing practices

Federal health authorities say vaping giant Juul Labs illegally pitched its electronic cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoking, including in a presentation at schools.

The FDA is giving Juul 15 days to respond to a warning letter they sent the company Monday

Federal health authorities say vaping giant Juul Labs illegally promoted its electronic cigarettes as a safer option to smoking, including in a presentation to school children. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Monday it had issued a warning letter to Juul Labs Inc. over its marketing practices for e-cigarettes, the latest in the agency's efforts to curb the use of the devices that have become extremely popular among teens.

The agency said Juul's labelling and advertising of its vaping devices can lead to consumers believing that the products present a lower risk of tobacco-related diseases or are less harmful than other commercially marketed tobacco products.

Juul did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

Juul has already come under scrutiny for its marketing efforts, including its use of social media influencers to promote its vaping devices, with the Federal Trade Commission launching an investigation last month.

Health Canada has said it intends to introduce new measures to curb the rising number of young people who vape, such as a proposal for more ad restrictions, a new public education campaign, and limits on the display of vaping products in certain retail locations.

The FDA said it was concerned that Juul's representation of products may look like switching to its vaping device was a safer alternative to cigarettes.

Juul uses a nicotine concentration of five per cent in its products, which could potentially increase their addictive properties, and nicotine salts that are used to mask the harshness of nicotine, the agency said, questioning their use.

The FDA has also asked Juul to provide a written response within 15 days outlining its plan to correct the violations, and to provide requested documents and information within 30 days of the date of the letter.

Last year, the agency had requested documents from Juul to examine the high rates of youth use and had conducted a surprise inspection at Juul's San Francisco headquarter, seizing documents.

With files from CBC News