The FDA raided Juul's headquarters last week as concerns grow over the company's marketing efforts towards teenagers

By Julie Mazziotta
October 03, 2018 11:18 AM
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The Food and Drug Administration raided Juul’s headquarters last week as concern grows about the e-cigarette company’s marketing efforts towards teenagers.

The FDA said that they seized over 1,000 pages of documents in the surprise raid at Juul’s San Francisco offices in their search for “further documentation related to Juul’s sales and marketing practices,” according to Today.

The raid was a continuation of the FDA’s investigation into the rise of e-cigarette use among underage teenagers. The agency first requested information on Juul’s marketing practices in April, and the company said that they’ve provided more than 50,000 documents since then.

“We are committed to preventing underage use, and we want to engage with FDA, lawmakers, public health advocates and others to keep JUUL out of the hands of young people,” Juul’s CEO Kevin Burns tells PEOPLE in a statement.

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But after undercover operations over the summer found that many national retailers like Walgreens and 7-Eleven are illegally selling e-cigarettes to minors, the FDA sent warning letters to Juul and other manufacturers telling them that they were not doing enough to curb teen use. The FDA also gave the companies 60 days to submit plans for how they were going to stop youth access to their products.

Burns said Juul is actively working on their plan.

“We look forward to presenting our plan to address youth access in the 60-day time frame as outlined by FDA,” he said. “We want to be part of the solution in preventing underage use, and we believe it will take industry and regulators working together to restrict youth access.”

Juuls in particular became popular with high school students for their easily concealable size — they look similar to a flash drive — and the variety of fruit flavors, like mango and coconut.

Juul e-cigarette and various flavor pods
Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Getty

They also contain a higher dose of nicotine than cigarettes, making them more addictive. And the problems increase from there — a study released Tuesday found that teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking regular cigarettes, and eventually increase their use of both products.

At the end of August, the National Youth Tobacco Survey found that 11.7 percent of high school students and 3.3 percent of middle school student — over 2.1 million total — reported using an e-cigarette in 2017, though the number is thought to be much higher.

“We see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion, and we must adjust certain aspects of our comprehensive strategy to stem this clear and present danger,” FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.