Breaking News
More () »

E-cigarette company Juul boosts lobbying spending by 167 percent amid FDA scrutiny

E-cigarette company boosts lobbying spending
Credit: Emma Kate Fittes, The Indianapolis Star
Juul vaporizers
Credit: Emma Kate Fittes, The Indianapolis Star
Juul vaporizers

Juul Labs has increased its spending on lobbying efforts by 167 percent in the third quarter from the previous quarter as the Food and Drug Administration and Congress continue to scrutinize the leading e-cigarette manufacturer over the popularity of its product with teenagers.

The company spent $560,000 on lobbying from July to the end of September, according to a disclosure form released Tuesday. The company initially reported spending almost $1.2 million on lobbying in the third quarter, but it filed an amendment to correct that number, Juul Labs spokeswoman Victoria Davis told USA TODAY.

According to a filing, the company's expenditure total for the second quarter was $210,000. 

The increase in spending follows a period of heightened regulatory focus on the e-cigarette industry. Last month, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb declared youth vaping an "epidemic," and said the agency will halt sales of flavored electronic cigarettes if the major manufacturers can't prove they are doing enough to keep them out of the hands of children and teens.

More: Dow, hit by October blues, posts loss after Caterpillar, 3M offer worrisome forecasts

More: Chick-fil-A now serving mac and cheese in six cities, testing appetite for the dish

More: Small businesses struggle to compete on wages as available worker pool shrinks

Juuls use nicotine salts, which exist in tobacco and contain a higher concentration of nicotine than many liquids in other e-cigarette brands. According to a November 2017 survey by the Truth Initiative, a non-profit tobacco control organization, 10 percent of people aged 15-24 both recognized and have used a Juul at one point in their life. 

However, despite Juul's popularity with younger consumer, Juul Labs created its product to wean adult smokers off traditional cigarettes, and the company condemns youth usage.

"We are focused on engaging with FDA, lawmakers, regulators, public health officials and advocates to drive awareness of our mission to improve the lives of the world's one billion smokers and to combat underage use so we keep JUUL out of the hands of young people," Davis said in a statement.  

Vince Willmore, vice president of communications for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said that the lobbying expenditures show that Juul is "behaving more and more like tobacco companies all the time."

Juul Labs made close to $1.5 billion in retail sales for its e-cigarettes over the 52-week period ending October 6, according to a Wells Fargo Securities analysis of Nielsen data. The company has about 75 percent of all e-cigarette revenue, excluding online sales and sales at specialty shops, according to Nielsen.

Follow USA TODAY intern Ben Tobin on Twitter: @TobinBen

Before You Leave, Check This Out