Juul illegally pitched its e-cigarettes as safer alternative to smoking, health authorities say

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- More problems for Juul Labs, the San Francisco-based e-cigarette company.

Monday, the Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter saying Juul has violated federal regulations by selling its vaping products as a safe alternative to tobacco cigarettes. The FDA says it never gave approval for that, and says Juul has never proved the claim.

At the VIP Smoke Shop in San Rafael, they do a lot of business selling electronic cigarettes and products. One of the selling points among buyers---a belief that that vaping products like Juul provide an alternative to smoking.

"I think the company has helped a lot of adult smokers to switch. And I think they have done a good thing with that," said Rebecca Williams, who does the buying at the store.

But today, the Food and Drug Administration made its position formal and known, saying that for Juul to market or advertise Such a claim is misleading and illegal. In a statement, today, the company said, "We are reviewing the letters and will fully cooperate."

Among doctors, like surgeon Junaid Khan at Sutter's Alta Bates Summit hospital, there is a feeling that the letter about Juul, or any E-Cigarettes being safer than tobacco, was long overdue based on how many young patients he has started to see, who vape. "I think the amazing thing is that this young patient population is the youngest patient population. We're seeing 19 year-olds, even 16 year-olds coming in.

The FDA also said it is concerned about testimony before Congress indicating a Juul representative had appeared at a school, touting the safety of its products. While the company insists it does not market to youth...vaping has reached epidemic proportions among youth.

"There is not consistent pattern," said Dr. Khan. It is not one vendor or shop, or just marijuana or e-cigarettes. It is the whole concept of vaporization casing the problem."

The FDA has ordered Juul to submit a plan that would correct the issues in this warning within days. Aside from that one-line statement, there was no other comment from the company.
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