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Congress threatens to subpoena Juul, saying vaping company isn’t cooperating with probe

A House panel is threatening to subpoena Juul, saying the e-cigarette maker is not cooperating with a congressional probe looking at whether the company intentionally targeted kids.

The House subcommittee that oversees consumer product investigations launched its a probe of Juul in June, holding two days of hearings in July. Subcommittee Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., said Juul has not fully complied with the panel’s request.

Lawmakers at the hearing made a number of requests to Juul co-founder James Monsees and Chief Administrative Officer Ashley Gould, including the list of schools that received funding from Juul for anti-vaping curriculum and the contract Marlboro-maker Altria signed with Juul when it took a 35% stake in the company late last year.

“Those documents have not been produced … We learned that Juul actually paid various school districts to go into schools and conduct anti-vaping seminars,” he said Wednesday in an interview on MSNBC. “When we questioned students at those seminars about what was said they said, for instance, that Juul representatives claimed that e-cigarettes were ‘totally safe’ and made other claims which, as you know, don’t appear to be true.”

Juul faces a number of lawsuits across the country claiming the company misled consumers and addicted young people to nicotine. The Food and Drug Administration started investigating Juul’s marketing practices in spring of 2018. The agency sent a warning letter to Juul earlier this month for illegally promoting its e-cigarettes as safer than cigarettes.

“There’s a national epidemic of youth vaping underway. Twenty-five percent of high schoolers are vaping, 5% of middle schoolers are vaping. This is alarming,” he said. “According to the surgeon general, vaping is dangerous for the brain development of young people. Now we’re seeing mystery illnesses and death, mainly among young people around the country.”

He said he backs a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes because children are attracted to the fruity flavors.

In a separate letter to Juul, an FDA official said the agency is “concerned” that Juul withheld documents from the agency and is investigating the matter.