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Open Letter: Dr. Louise Stanger to Juul Labs, Inc. and Dr. Mark Rubinstein

In an open letter published last week, clinician and award-winning interventionist Dr. Louise Stanger writes to America’s favorite vaping company Juul Labs, Inc., and their latest hire, UCSF researcher Dr. Mark L. Rubinstein, regarding the current teen vaping crisis, and Juul’s lack of accountability, urgency, or care.

As per Dr. Stanger and data from the LA Times, Juul is responsible for over 70 percent of the e-cigarette market, capturing a large customer base among vulnerable consumers through a combination of teen-savvy and aggressive marketing, and a serious, targeted approach aimed at youth. As a result, Juul finds itself at the center of a teen vaping epidemic. As Dr. Stanger explains, this is a serious issue.

E-Cigarettes Are Not Risk Free

The two main risks identified in e-cigarette consumption is the fact that its long-term effects are unknown, especially with regards to the degradation of components within so-called ‘vapes’ and the potential presence of heavy metals in e-cigarettes. Secondly, Juul’s products contain a concerning amount of nicotine.

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, and extremely dangerous in teens. Due to a combination of factors, teens are far more susceptible to dependence issues and substance use disorder, and in the case of nicotine, long-term dependence can lead to serious negative changes in memory, decision making, cognitive ability, and more.

The idea that e-cigarettes offer an alternative to existing smokers or help smokers quit, while attractive, has not been supported in the data. Instead, vaping has become a new way for companies to get today’s youth hooked on one of the most addictive drugs on the market. Rather than being used exclusively by quitting smokers, e-cigarettes are often used in supplementation to regular cigarettes, or by non-smokers.

Dr. Stanger notes that, while Juul has been responsible for the lion’s share of nicotine vaping in America, much evidence has come to light exposing e-cigarettes as dangerous particularly for inquisitive and curious teens, who have likely been targeted by Juul’s marketing campaigns. While teens and youth have been using e-cigarettes since before Juul’s launch in 2015, it’s simple to see that there have been no serious efforts to reduce teen use – to the contrary, it has been encouraged.

Juul has taken steps to remove such marketing, but their efforts to address the epidemic have been largely anemic in comparison to the sheer urgency required to make an impact on the problem. Their latest move has been to hire USCF researcher and addiction specialist Dr. Mark L. Rubinstein, but such a move inspires little confidence.

Juul’s Tactics Are Familiar

Straight out of an old playbook, the decision to place an addiction specialist and spokesperson on the company’s payroll strikes one as eerily similar to tactics employed by big tobacco in the past. Some of Dr. Rubinstein’s own colleagues have expressed shock and skepticism of Juul’s motives and Dr. Rubinstein’s decision to join the company, and Dr. Stanger agrees: “It’s hard not to be skeptical of your motivation, Juul.”

It should come to no surprise that one of the six largest tobacco companies on the planet owns a 35 percent share of Juul Labs, Inc. To many, the teen vaping epidemic is a sign that this is Big Tobacco 2.0.

Dr. Stanger asks: “Are you willing to see vaping normalized, and risk the children in your lives becoming addicted to nicotine?”

Click below to read the full letter.

Learn more about Dr. Stangers work here: https://www.allaboutinterventions.com/

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