For decades, Big Tobacco’s unrelenting targeting of Black communities contributed to a public health emergency. Black Americans usually smoke fewer cigarettes, and start smoking at an older age, but they’re more likely to die from smoking-related diseases than whites.
When given the opportunity to market their products differently, JUUL turned to the same playbook.
Congressional hearings and a lawsuit by the Massachusetts Attorney General exposed how JUUL used strategies and actions from Big Tobacco to fuel the e-cigarette epidemic, targeting youth so the company could become the largest seller of vaping devices in the United States, including funding a summer program that gave them access to Black children.
The JUUL-funded program was designed to include students as young as third graders who would be asked health assessment questions about exposure to secondhand smoke.
These young students were expected to create a “Healthy Lifestyle Plan” including “healthy alternatives to risky behaviors.” There is no evidence vaping is healthier than smoking cigarettes, and nobody knows the long-term health effects of using JUUL’s products--not even JUUL. (Source: JUUL’s former CEO.)
Based on currently-available research, vaping is extremely harmful to multiple vital organs, and weakens the immune system.
The results of “Healthy Lifestyle Plans” from their pilot program were intended to create a baseline for future programming in “low income urban communities” across the country.
Big Tobacco’s historical pattern of racist exploitation continues to impact Black health and Black lives. The companies have changed, but their predatory tactics have not. Read more about it here.