How vaping giant Juul 'sparked teen epidemic with iPhone of e-cigarettes' and chilling side effects of schoolkid addicts | The Sun

THE firm behind Britain’s favourite vape is said to have sparked a teen epidemic with the 'iPhone of e-cigarettes' .

A forthcoming Netflix documentary series Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul claims the company started “an epidemic of youth addiction and lung disease”.

In the trailer for the programme, an unidentified man says: “There are 15-year-old kids who are doing the vape equivalent of chain smoking.”

The clip also suggests how the firm drew on the appeal of Apple products to market their vapes.

While a teenage girl breaks down in tears as she explains that her apparent addiction to e-cigarettes left her needing hospital treatment.

The docuseries director and executive producer RJ Cutler said in a Q&A about the show: “For me, the twist is that the product worked.

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“You’ll see in the other episodes all the mistakes the company made… but the product worked.

“The product could be the key to solving the crisis, the global, billion smoker crisis of combustible cigarettes, and that’s a good thing.”

He added: “They marketed to children, they made it too sexy… but the damn thing worked.”

It comes after ministers in the UKlaunched a vaping crackdown to stop kids getting hooked on nicotine in April this year.

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In recent months, Juul Labs has agreed to pay out more than £821,770,000 ($1bn) to settle claims it unlawfully promoted its products to children.

It paid out £379million ($462m) in April to resolve lawsuits brought by six US states after being accused of targeting teenagers.

The company -formed by two Stanford University graduates – has not admitted any wrongdoing.

Juul’s executives have repeatedly denied that they meant to attract children.

They say they just wanted to give adult smokers a better option than conventional cigarettes.

While e-cigarettes are not entirely safe, many health experts say they are less dangerous that cigarettes.

In June 2023, the UK government was criticised for its “completely inappropriate” endorsement of Juul.

In an official briefing circulated by the Department of Health and Social Care about the prime minister’s plan to close a loophole allowing free samples to be given to children it is said to have promoted Juul.

The press release, which included quotes from Rishi Sunak, portrayed the company as a leader in combating youth vaping, saying it “takes steps to ensure its products do not appeal to and are not used by anyone who is under age, and encourages others in the sector to do the same”.

Health campaigners and experts branded the government’s promotion of Juul as “naïve” and “inappropriate”.

The chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) Deborah Arnott said it “gave the impression” the company had been given “a seat at the table in determining how vapes should be regulated”.

She told The Guardian: “The government needs to make clear that its policy on youth vaping is going to be determined by the evidence, not the interests of the industry.”

The director of the Institute for Health Research at the University of Bedfordshire, Professor Gurch Randhawa said there was “cause for concern that any company that’s been accused of fuelling youth vaping through its colourful packaging and flavour variety would be included in government policy announcements”.

He said: “Although vaping companies state they do not market to children, their products are fuelling the current vaping epidemic among young people in the UK.”

At the time, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “To support our ambition to be smoke-free by 2030, we are working closely with all stakeholders.”

Juul Labs, which is based in Washington DC but has an office in London, said previously it was “committed to supporting the government’s efforts to provide alternative products to adult smokers while combating underage use of e-cigarettes”.

In September this year it was revealed a record 4.5m Brits are now vapers, according to official figures.

The proportion of people puffing e-cigs every day rose to 8.7 per cent last year from 7.7 per cent in 2021, the Office for National Statistics says.

The e-cigs industry argues increased use in children is down to rogue sellers who ignore the law stating buyers must be 18 or over. 

Juul declined to comment when approached by The Sun Online.

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It comes after Sunak announced plans to ban the next generation buying fags at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

The tough new anti-smoking measures would see the smoking age increased by a year every year to eventually make it illegal for anyone to buy cigarettes.

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