(Bloomberg) -- A U.S. House subcommittee is requesting documents from Juul Labs Inc. as part of a congressional investigation into e-cigarette use by teenagers, according to a letter from the panel’s chairman to the company’s chief executive officer.
Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi asked Juul CEO Kevin Burns for information, including records of marketing strategy and advertising campaigns, as well as internal communication regarding the impact on minors. The U.S. representative from Illinois, who serves as chairman of a House Oversight and Reform subcommittee, said Juul is a “primary cause” of the youth vaping epidemic.
A spokesman for Juul said the company received the letter and will cooperate with the investigation. “We share the subcommittee’s concerns about youth vaping and welcome the opportunity to share information about our aggressive, industry-leading actions to combat youth usage,” the spokesman wrote in an email.
Juul makes the country’s most popular nicotine vaporizer. The San Francisco business is valued at $38 billion by investors, including Altria Group Inc., which sells Marlboro cigarettes in the U.S. Juul pitches its product as a way to help cigarette smokers quit, though the vaping device has been widely adopted by young people attracted to its sleek design. Juul took steps late last year to discourage teen use, which dealt a temporary setback to sales, but the company told investors recently that revenue is growing again.
As Washington has turned up the heat on Juul, the company hired former aides to President Donald Trump. Josh Raffel and Johnny DeStefano are among the former White House officials who now work for Juul.
The Congressional investigation could expose Juul to the possible spectacle of being called to testify on Capitol Hill. “The safety and well-being of America’s youth is not for sale,” Krishnamoorthi wrote in the letter dated June 7. “I am extremely concerned about reports that Juul’s high nicotine content is fueling addiction and that frequent Juul use is sending kids across the country into rehab.”
At a briefing on Tuesday, Richard Durbin, the U.S. Senate Democratic whip who’s also from Illinois, said the Food and Drug Administration is “not doing their job” to curb youth vaping. The issue had been designated a priority by Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, but Durbin said he was alarmed and disappointed by a recent meeting with Gottlieb’s replacement, Ned Sharpless.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last month that raising the minimum age for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21 nationwide is one of his top priorities this year. Democratic House leaders have said they’ll consider his proposal if the Senate passes it.
--With assistance from Anna Edgerton.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Huet in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Mark Milian at email@example.com, Anne VanderMey
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.