Vapor CEOs face lawmakers’ questions on role in youth vaping


February 5, 2020

It was like a flashback to 1994. In early February, The
House Energy and Commerce oversight and investigations subcommittee grilled the
CEOs of Juul Labs, R. J. Reynolds Vapor Company and NJOY, as well as the
presidents of Logic Technology Development and Fontem Ventures US. It was
reminiscent of when, in 1994, the CEOs from seven major tobacco companies
testified before Congress about the marketing tactics for tobacco products. The
tension in the rooms was also similar.

For more than two hours, lawmakers on the House Energy and
Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations asked questions ranging
from marketing strategies to how to curb youth usage of these products. K.C. Crostwaite,
CEO for Juul Labs, expressed his understanding of the serious need for
companies to combat the uptick in youth use.

“I fully recognize that the opportunity for the
millions of adult smokers who still use combustible cigarettes to have an
alternative is at risk if we don’t address this issue,” K.C. Crosthwaite,
Juul’s CEO, said. “We are focused on combating underage access because I
know it puts it all at risk if we don’t make progress here.”

Legislators also wanted to understand the possible health
effects vaping products pose to consumers and the role each company sees itself
as playing in the ongoing effort to curb the nation’s uptick of youth use.
Antoine Blonde, president of Fontem, said the company had a detailed youth
access prevention program and maintained efforts to safeguard its products from

“Fontem uses industry-standard online age-gating and
age-verification mechanisms to prevent youth access to its products online,”
Blonde said. “For example, for all purchases through our website, Fontem relies
on industry-standard age-verification technology that compares a potential
purchaser’s information against records of trusted data sources to verify the
age of the purchaser.”

Blonde said Fontem recognizes that there “may be” bad actors
in the marketplace who attempt to purchase bulk quantity of its products
through e-commerce web sites in order to re-sell them (a practice often called
strawman sales. “Fontem has always had policies in place to monitor for
strawman sales and further is implementing a strict 4-Stage standard to monitor
site access for any potential strawman purchases on its online platform,”
Blonde explained. “This standard will track registered adult consumers’ monthly
order frequency of pods from its online platform and will flag potential
strawman sales.”

The companies are said to represent nearly 97 percent of the
$19.3 billion U.S. e-cigarette market, according to Rep. Diana DeGette,
chairwoman of the subcommittee. That data only includes convenience store
sales, and many industry insiders say the figure is grossly inaccurate. Vape shop
sales are not included in Nielsen data DeGette is citing.

“While consumers remain in the dark of the possible health
consequences, these companies are making billions of dollars as they lure a new
generation of young people into a lifetime of nicotine addiction,” DeGette, the
chair of the oversight panel conducting the hearing, wrote in a press release.

Category: Breaking News, Regulation

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Source: VaporVoice