Monday, November 26, 2018

Juul Labs vs. FDA

Image result for juul
The device know as a "Juul"

Company Background:

Starting in June of 2015, the product known as a Juul (a small and portable nicotine vaporizer) hit the market and was made by PAX Labs at the time. In an attempt to avoid a negative vibe from PAX Labs (who makes vaporizers for tobacco and marijuana) Juul Labs became its own company in July of 2017. At this time, the CEO of PAX Labs, Tyler Goldman, was announced as the new CEO of Juul Labs. The goal of this company is supposed to be to help give adult smokers a new option to help them quit cigarettes. With the device, they sell "pods" which contain the vape liquid which will be vaporized when using the device. Each pod contains 200 puffs and has the nicotine levels of one pack of cigarettes.

The Controversy:

Image result for juul ads
This ad shows how Juul uses young models in their marketing
practices along with the fruity flavors offered.
Under age vaping has become a huge concern in today's times with kids getting addicted earlier and earlier. These kids are developing habits that will follow them through life, and companies like Juul are taking the heat for it all. In the past year, there have been many accusations of companies such as Juul, along with others, marketing and altering their products to attract kinds under the age of 18 (the federal legal age to buy nicotine products.) The biggest issue along with allegedly marketing to kids, is their fruity flavors that can attract the eye of kids. On April 24, 2018, the FDA released a press release with a plan going forward. The first thing to be implemented is a wide spread investigation into stores selling to minors, and get them more strict. The second is to contact companies like eBay to keep the sale of Juul and similar products unavailable for purchase. Third is the FDA will be contacting companies such as Juul Labs and requesting information about how they are going to get kids to stop using their products. The fourth was that there will be “additional enforcement action” for companies that are intentionally promoting to kids. The last step will be to continue research and health campaigns around electronic cigarettes. Over the next few months, there was a very large amount of stores that continued to not ask for identification and there was no signs of under age nicotine consumption going down. This didn't work, and led to another press release from the FDA on September 12. This was a quick announcement saying that Juul Labs and similar companies had 60 days to prove they have a marketing strategy to get kids off of these products, but nobody was able to do it in time. In the middle of all that time, the FDA went into Juul Labs and seized thousands of documents, with no advancements yet. The FDA is still holding the information contained in the documents, but has not taken any further action to target Juul's marketing practices. In an announcement made on November 8, 2018, the FDA claims to stop the sale of majority of flavors from the shelves in gas stations. What this means for the consumer is that they will now only be able to buy mint, menthol, and both tobacco flavors at all the normal places that they could before. In order to get any of the other flavors that are offered such as mango, fruit medley, creme brulee, and cool cucumber, people will have to go into tobacco and vape shops. The reasoning behind this is to keep the fruity and appealing flavors out of sight of kids. It is thought that if kids don’t see them frequently, and it is not as “in their face” then they will be more likely to stay away from them or never try them at all.


Under individualism, the only guideline is that everything must be within the law, as stated
by Milton Friedman. This makes it difficult to analyze the actions of Juul and how moral

they are in the case with attracting minors to their products. In terms of abiding by the law, the company never actually broke any laws seeing as the underage sales were getting to the kids by means of adults or stores not ID’ing kids. There has also not been any known proof that Juul had a marketing campaign together that would support kids to start using their products. As far as the public is currently concerned they are still within the moral guidelines because they have not legally been in trouble for their marketing practices. Although there was never anymore said about the seized documents from their headquarters, it is assumed that there were documents that could get them in trouble. If this case goes on to expose that they have had secret plans about this all along then they will no longer fit the guidelines of individualism. With that being said, at this point in time, Juul is currently still moral by an individualist approach since they have not been proven to have broken the laws in anyway.
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A shocking, yet realistic fact about how much this product has penetrated our schools. 


Utilitarianism is all about the best benefit for everyone. The goal is to create as much happiness for the affected parties while making sure to not cause unhappiness among other affected parties. In the case of Juul, incorporating the best for everyone versus what makes people the happiest makes the most sense. For the case of attracting and marketing to under age kids, the children getting long term damage to their health along with the parents of these kids are the most affected. These kids may be happy now, which supports that they follow a utilitarian guideline, but the kids will not be happy down the road. The company is attracting these kids and getting them addicted early on to make them seem like they are happy with their choices now, but only causes health problems and addiction later in life. These people will not be happy with the choices of Juul down the road. Along with these kids, parents are up in arms about Juuls. So many kids are getting these confiscated everyday by parents and teachers and it is becoming an issue to worry about. There have been social outcries about Juul and majority of adults are not happy at all about it. The kids many not be unhappy yet, but the parents definitely are. It has become such an issue in schools that the teachers and administration are having to waste time with them, and it affects their schedules. All this unhappiness would outweigh the happiness for Juul because they are making money, and according to a utilitarian, it is not ethical.


Developed by Immanuel Kant, this theory is all about being simply rational. There are four parts to rationality according to Kant. These include trying to be as rational as possible, allow others to make the most rational decision, strive for goodwill, and have a general respect for people. Juul’s biggest issue with this theory is allowing others to make rational decisions. They are fully exploiting young kids who cannot make these decisions on their own, as they are being heavily influenced by the marketing promotions that make it seem so fun and harmless. Seeing as the company only promotes the positives of the device, and do their best to leave out the downside, these kids don’t have the ability to see what is truly wrong with the product. Another issue for Juul is that they are just not treating these people with respect. The company knows that they are selling an addictive product, but they don’t seem to care. Although it is up for debate, it is said to be a safer method for consuming nicotine, they still know the dangers and hardly discuss that the product is intended for people looking to quit cigarettes. By getting people to stop smoking is helping people but getting people addicted is far from respectful towards them. They know that if they get kids addicted that they will become lifelong customers, and that is only using people as an end instead of a mean. Due to this, Kant would not say that Juul Labs is being ethical.

Virtue Theory:
Virtue theory tests if a person or company is virtuous. Created by Aristotle, this theory has four main parts to test and they include courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. According to Aristotle, in order to live a virtuous life, one must also live a rational life, which is where Kantianism relates to this theory also. In the case against Juul, they are not virtuous either. They are not honest to everyone here, because they have manipulative marketing ads, and do everything in their power to educate and inform kids on the dangers of getting addicted to nicotine at such a young age. The other thing that has been such an issue for Juul is being courageous. They are hiding behind the laws and are continuing to do as much as they can to push the product. There has been a large increase of Juul use on social media. This makes the product look fun and innocent while also promoting the image that everyone does it, and you’re weird for not owning one. This strong social media presence makes it hard to avoid them and Juul has done nothing to try and stop it. They see it all as free advertising, but they do not have the courage to warm people of the dangers.

These facts and analyses are based on an original essay conducted by Nicholas Daponte, "FDA vs. Juul Labs for sale to minors (2018)"


Felberbaum, Michael. Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on new enforcement actions and a
Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan to stop youth use of, and access to, JUUL and other e-cigarettes, FDA, April 24, 2018

Felberbaum, Michael. Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on new steps to address
epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, FDA, September 12, 2018

Hoffman, Jan. F.D.A. Seizes Documents From Juul Headquarters, The New York Times, October 2, 2018

Lavito, Angelica. FDA to consider limiting e-cigarette sales to vape shops to curb youth use, CNBC, October 19, 2018
 Lavito, Angelica. FDA threatens to pull new products from nearly two dozen e-cigarette companies, CNBC, October 12, 2018
Salazar, Heather. The Business Ethics Case Manual: The Authoritative Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding and Improving The Ethics of Any Business.

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