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December 23 2019

An update on vaping: New laws, frivolous lawsuits, and worrisome lung infections

featuring Julie Gunlock and Jennifer Braceras

On this popup podcast, Jennifer Baceras, from Independent Women’s Law Center, and Julie Gunlock, from IWF’s Center for Progress and Innovation, discuss the latest updates on vaping—from the White House’s threat to ban all vape products and e-cigarette flavors to the latest lawsuit against Juul, and the continued false and scary narrative that there’s a teen vaping epidemic.

Beverly:
Hey everyone, it's Beverly Hallberg. Welcome to a special pop-up episode of She Thinks, your favorite podcast from the Independent Women's Forum where we talk with women, and sometimes men, about the policy issues that impact you and the people you care about most. Enjoy.

Jennifer:
Hi, everyone. I'm Jennifer Braceras, director of Independent Women's Law Center, and I am joined today by Julie Gunlock, director of IWF Center for Progress and Innovation. Thanks for being here, Julie.

Julie :
Glad to be on. Thank you, Jennifer.

Jennifer:
So today we're going to talk about vaping. And I know this is something that you've written a lot about and it's a topic that I think elicits a lot of knee jerk reactions, primarily because there are so many misconceptions about the topic. And I confess that I myself had quite a few misconceptions about vaping until you educated me on many of them. So for those who might've heard the hype, but might not have actual experience with vaping, let's just start with the basics. What is it?

Julie :
Well, Jennifer, thanks again for covering this topic because it is important, and I think, you know, I have a middle schooler, I also have elementary schoolers and I know you also have, you know, kids in the teenage range, and so this is an issue that we deal with. We certainly hear about it from our own kids. And so moms are very, very nervous about this. I say mom because really it is a lot of moms who are pushing for regulations and bans.

Julie :
And so, I am trying, you know, again, just like you, when I first got involved in this issue, I was a little bit nervous, and then I started reading both the health data and also the actual CDC's data on how many teens are actually vaping, and I was relieved. And so that's what you're talking about. When I talk about this with other women, and particularly moms, I try to reassure them using the actual data, which again, is very reassuring.

Julie :
The thing is with vaping, what vaping is, it is an electronic version of nicotine, of getting nicotine in your body. So you know, we all know conventional smoking, traditional smoking involves lighting a cigarette on fire and then it creates smoke, and then you inhale that smoke into your body, which is a way of getting the nicotine into your body, okay? BECause the tobacco contains nicotine, so it is a nicotine delivery system.

Julie :
How an e-cigarette is different is there is no burning. What you do is you heat a liquid, which this is e-liquids, and they're usually flavored with a variety of [crosstalk 00:03:01].

Jennifer:
And no tobacco, right? To be clear.

Julie :
And no tobacco, yes.

Jennifer:
No cancer-causing tobacco?

Julie :
Right. No tobacco. Well, we have to be careful here because tobacco itself is, it's not the tobacco necessarily that causes cancer, it is the burning of tobacco. It is the combustion that causes cancer.

Jennifer:
Got it. But regardless, there's no tobacco in vaping?

Julie :
Right, right. So there's basically liquid nicotine, okay? And some people argue with that too because they say, "Well, nicotine is derived from tobacco," but what we need to be clear about, this is not, you know, leaves of tobacco rolled up into a cigarette, okay? It's an e-liquid. It contains nicotine. You heat it up, it creates a water vapor. Just like when you boil water over a stove, it creates steam. It looks like smoke, but it's actually steam. And then you inhale the steam.

Julie :
And the liquid itself contains some ingredients, very few chemicals are actually produced through this process as opposed to combustion, which produces thousands of chemicals which you then take into your lungs. And I mean, you don't have to have a medical degree to say, "Hey, that's probably not smart. So the water vapor is far less harmful to human lungs. And Public Health England released a study early last year where they measured it up to 95% less harmful than smoking.

Julie :
So again, if we're going to talk about, you know, bad habits, right, and I would say like I don't want kids vaping and I don't want kids smoking, but certainly, if they're going to choose a bad habit, you want them to choose one that is 95% less harmful than the alternative. So vaping is a far, far, far safer way to deliver nicotine.

Jennifer:
Right.

Julie :
Now, the reason that e-cigarettes sort of came on the market was to help people switch from the very dangerous cancer-causing habit of smoking to the far less dangerous, not cancer-causing habit of vaping. And the reason why this is so helpful for a lot of people is it mimics smoking. It looks like smoking. It feels like smoking. You get sort of a warm vapor in your mouth. Now, the flavors are a different thing, and we can get into that later, but it mimics smoking. Again, the deep breathing, the hand to mouth contact-

Jennifer:
Right. Right.

Julie :
The sort of maybe having to remove yourself from your desk and go outside. So this is why it has been so successful. The latest study is people are twice as likely to continue or to stay off cigarettes if they use vaping as opposed to patches and gum. For women, vaping is particularly a successful method of smoking cessation. So it has [crosstalk 00:05:49]-

Jennifer:
Right, because there's so much more to smoking than just the intake of the nicotine.

Julie :
Exactly.

Jennifer:
It's a habit-

Julie :
Yes.

Jennifer:
That's both social, physical. And I say this as somebody who, you know, was a smoker in college, that aspect of going outside with a friend for a smoke-

Julie :
Yes.

Jennifer:
Or just holding it in a certain way, and all those aspects of it are almost as hard to give up as the product itself.

Julie :
Well, and the appetite-suppressing qualities, you know, that's a big part of why women smoke. And also there's this deep breathing aspect of it and women's sort of in particular benefit from these qualities. And I'm certainly not saying there's any benefits to smoking, but I'm saying that habits are as hard to break as the addiction to nicotine.

Julie :
Nicotine is extremely addictive. That's hard enough. But then if you're asking women to also, or anyone, to also give up these sort of physical habits that they've become accustomed to, I think, you know, people forget stepping away from your desk and sort of going outside, you know, that's something that if you do it over 20 years, if you do it over two years, it becomes a habit.

Julie :
And so vaping sort of allows you to continue the physical habits of smoking, but you're doing it in a 95% safer way.

Jennifer:
Yeah, that's a very good point.

Julie :
To quickly pivot to the teen smoking issue, you're going to see from CDC, and certainly this resonates with moms the most, you're going to see horrifying numbers like 78% increase in teen vaping. Everybody's teen vaping. And you hear Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the FDA saying things like, "It's an epidemic."

Julie :
And it's interesting, they actually did some word testing. The FDA hired a PR firm to test all these words, crisis, epidemic, disaster, right, just kind of figure out what was the best word that would panic people. I mean, it's kind of disturbing to me that the FDA is even doing this, but they found that the epidemic worried women the most, worried moms the most. And so they went with it.

Julie :
Again, I say, you know, you have Gottlieb out there saying, "Oh my God, it's an epidemic." You know, sort of suggesting these images of 13th century black death and some guy with a bell saying, "Bring out your dead." You know, it's just insanity. So of course I'm like, "Good God, is this true?"

Julie :
And that's my job at IWS. You know, I just look at these things, these public health people claims and I go and look at the data. It's not true. It's a complete lie.

Jennifer:
Okay. Let's just dial it back a bit to, you know, people's perceptions. Right?

Julie :
Sure.

Jennifer:
So as a mom, and I have two kids in high school, there does seem to be a lot of vaping going on.

Julie :
Right.

Jennifer:
But I know that, as you've explained, that lots of kids might be trying vaping, but that doesn't mean they are habitually vaping. Is that the difference that we're talking about?

Julie :
Yes. Yes. So if you dig down into the CDC data, and I know people have a life, so nobody is going to do this, but that's what's so great about, you know, when you have really complicated data tables, you know most of the public, 99% of the public is not going to sit there on their computer and look for the asterix and then go down and look at the little wording-

Jennifer:
In our spare time.

Julie :
Who has time for this? But I did it, and there's a couple of other people who did it. And so if you actually look at the data, the question is past 30 day use. And let me explain that sort of term [inaudible 00:09:30], okay?

Julie :
So what the CDC did is they actually questioned teens and they said, "In the past 30 days, have you used an e-cigarette device?" Okay? So a large number of teens said yes, okay? And they said, "Yeah, I've used it."

Julie :
Okay, so let's take another sort of illegal for teens like alcohol. If a teen said once in 30 days they had a sip of beer, or even one beer, would you claim that there was an epidemic of alcoholism among teens? No. You would say, "Okay, they were at a party, they were doing a bad thing." Right? They were definitely doing something undesirable. Parents don't want their kids even taking a sip of beer, okay? But would you say this an epidemic of teen alcohol abuse or teen alcohol use? No. You would say, "Okay, teens are being teens, and we wish they wouldn't do this, but it doesn't look like there's a massive alcohol abuse problem that requires [crosstalk 00:10:30]."

Jennifer:
I think the difference is from, you know, just the public perception standpoint, is that alcohol has existed for time and memorial, right?

Julie :
Right.

Jennifer:
Whereas vaping is a new product-

Julie :
Sure.

Jennifer:
It's a new phenomenon. So people think of it, you know, colloquially as an epidemic because, 10 years ago, it didn't exist at all.

Julie :
Yeah. Yeah.

Jennifer:
And so the difference between what teens were doing 10 years ago and what teens are doing now, I mean, if you put it in terms of alcohol, if there was no alcohol 10 years ago, and then all of a sudden now, a teen says, "Oh yeah, once a month I have a beer at a party," people would view that as an astronomical change, and therefore-

Julie :
Right.

Jennifer:
They would like call it an epidemic, but it's not actually an epidemic as that term is appropriately defined.

Julie :
Right. And if you actually go into the CDC data and look at... And also, there's a survey on tobacco use that the CDC also does. They're very consistent. It's actually, the number of teen use of e-cigarettes in a habitual way, okay, is around 5%, okay? That's not an epidemic. That's something public health officials should certainly look at and we should try to get these teams to not vape in a habitual way.

Julie :
And why this distinction is important, Jennifer, is because, when the CDC or when the FDA comes out and says it's an epidemic and they say, you know, some astronomical percentage of teens are vaping, and again, they're using that past 30 day question, they also then follow up by saying, "And because of this, we're going to have a new generation addicted to nicotine."

Julie :
Well if you once a month or at a party, or even two or three times at a party are taking out your Juul or your other e-cigarette device, and your puffing on it to look cool, you're not vulnerable to addiction, okay? It's the habit. It's the habit of vaping regularly that is going to make you addicted to nicotine.

Julie :
And so what frustrates me is they say this outlandish number that is not related to the actual data of habitual teen use. Then they say, "And because of this, we're going to have an epidemic of nicotine addiction." So that's the connection that they're trying to make, that you have a whole new generation addicted to nicotine. They don't care, they don't ever mention that e-cigarettes are far, far safer, and again, I'm not saying they're harm-free, I'm saying that they are 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

Julie :
The other thing that the CDC and FDA [crosstalk 00:13:14].

Jennifer:
Let me just stop you-

Julie :
Yeah.

Jennifer:
Because what I hear a lot, right, what I hear other parents say is this is a gateway to smoking-

Julie :
Yeah.

Jennifer:
And a gateway to other things.

Julie :
Right.

Jennifer:
So how do you respond-

Julie :
Sure.

Jennifer:
To the argument that this is going to hook people on something and ultimately they're going to become smokers? How do we know that that's not true?

Julie :
That's a great, great question and it is really important, because you're right, some people, okay, they might say, "Okay, it's not an epidemic, but certainly this is a gateway drug to other things or a gateway to smoking." The interesting thing is, again, if you look at the data, I consider vaping just entirely an exit ramp from smoking, not a gateway drug, not an entrance ramp onto the highway of smoking. Because when you look at the data [crosstalk 00:14:00]

Jennifer:
Well, for adults, it's an off ramp for sure, right?

Julie :
No, no, no, no. Yes, yes. But actually, when you look at teens, teens are not smoking nowadays. The smoking rate among teens is at a historic low. And what's interesting is if you look at when e-cigarettes came onto the market around... Well, really, I think they consider it like 2010. Because they started on the market in 2006, but it was harder to get. Anyway, so around 2010 you had a precipitous drop in teen smoking when e-cigarettes came on the marketplace.

Jennifer:
Interesting.

Julie :
And you're not [crosstalk 00:14:37], you're not saying. So it's been about 10 years that these things have been on the marketplace, and what I'm saying is [crosstalk 00:14:47].

Jennifer:
So it seems there's a certain percentage of kids, right, that you're saying-

Julie :
[crosstalk 00:00:14:52].

Jennifer:
That are going to experiment and would gravitate towards smoking cigarettes and are not doing so because there's an alternative product.

Julie :
Well, yes, exactly. What I am saying here is that we have teen vaping, we have teen smoking. That teen smoking of traditional combustible cigarettes is at a historic low, yes. We have seen some increase in teen vaping, but what I'm saying is, is that you're always going to have this demographic of teens who are going to try things, who are going to rebel.

Julie :
I actually smoked in high school and I smoked in college, and the reason I smoked in high school, it was because I didn't do anything else bad. I didn't drink, I didn't stay out late. I was super, super good, but this was this one rebellious thing that I did. And so you know, for me, I might be part of that demographic. You know, I'm one of those teens that was going to experiment with cigarettes. And so what I'm saying now is kids are experimenting, not with cigarettes, they're experiments with vaping. And so look, I don't want kids doing anything, but I don't think we're ever going to avoid the demographic of kids who are doing that.

Julie :
Now, I never really felt addicted. It wasn't really hard for me to stop. And I sort of grew out of that a couple years into college, and probably because I wasn't smoking that much. But the point is, is you're always going to have these kids doing these things, and wouldn't we prefer them to be doing it with a healthier, a far, far, far healthier delivery system than with smoking.

Julie :
And this is the other critical thing though, and what people seem to not understand. Is these products have been in the marketplace for 10 years. If there was this so-called gateway effect, we would see vaping rates go up, and then as those teens got older, we would see a switching over to cigarettes. It's not just teen smoking that's at a historic low, adult smoking is at a historic low.

Julie :
We are not seeing that switchover at any point. And I think part of it is because, look, there's been great education on smoking. People know smoking is bad for you. And so we're not seeing this sort of switch over from vaping to smoking. That's great news. And again, what we cannot forget in this whole conversation is vaping has helped millions, millions of not just Americans worldwide. You have tremendous quitting rates over in England and has helped millions of these former smokers, or rather, smokers switch over to vaping, which again, is they stay for method of nicotine delivery.

Julie :
And so that should be a public health win. But instead, because of this so-called, what I call, this myth of a teen vaping epidemic, we have now calls to ban vaping altogether, or smaller things like banning flavors, which we can get into that because that's essentially banning vaping, and doing other restrictions that it would make very hard for for current smokers and former smokers to continue their far better habit of vaping.

Jennifer:
Yeah. I do want to talk about the flavor issue, but before we get into that, let's just talk for a minute about the so-called public health crisis. We've had a number of headlines in the past few months about people showing up at the hospital with lung disease caused by vaping or, you know, even I think 30 some odd deaths from vaping.

Julie :
Yeah.

Jennifer:
And I feel like we're at a bit of a moral panic about this at this point, where-

Julie :
Sure.

Jennifer:
You know, people are coming in with these mystery illnesses, but it's not clear to me that they're being caused by the legal products out there on the market-

Julie :
Yeah.

Jennifer:
So maybe you could explain that a little bit.

Julie :
Yeah. And that's also, and we can talk about this as well, I would actually like to talk about some of the lawsuits that have been filed against some of these companies, and they're related a lot to these new health conditions which the media, which frustrates me, always says the vaping-related lung diseases. It turns out it has very little to do with the actual vape mechanics and devices. Instead, it is a black, I wish they would switch this, but I'm not a headline writer, but you know, I wish they would switch it to say black market, illegal drug-related.

Julie :
These are much more accurate headlines, drug-related lung issues, black market product-related lung issues. You know, again, because, and the CDC has backed this up, the CDC announced last month that every single sample from people who were affected by these lung diseases and were either injured or died, they took samples from these people, they sent it off to the lab and it comes back, oh, look, every single lung sample had vitamin E acetate, which is, in the sort of black market production, not regulated, not overseen by the FDA, black market production of some e-flavors and THC a liquids. And I shouldn't have even said flavors. I'm talking about THC liquids that are then vaped, and people are buying these off the street. They're buying them on the black market [crosstalk 00:20:08].

Jennifer:
So that is not, that vitamin E that you're talking about, and that THC, that is not in Juul?

Julie :
No.

Jennifer:
That's not in what most kids are doing.

Julie :
No. No, it's not [crosstalk 00:20:20].

Jennifer:
And that's what's causing the lung problems?

Julie :
Right, that vitamin E acetate is sticky, it's like honey, and it's used to sometimes cut, essentially, the THC liquid, this is marijuana, the THC liquid, to make it vaporize better, okay?

Jennifer:
Okay.

Julie :
So again, but this is an illegal substance. Vitamin E acetate, you are not allowed to use it. You should not put anything sticky, that as a compound on its own is sticky, because what will happen is you vape it, yeah, it looks like a vapor. It looks perfectly safe, then you vape it, and it hardens in your lungs. If you've ever taken bacon fat and you run your sink, you run some water and the bacon fat in cold water, it will harden.

Jennifer:
Right.

Julie :
Or honey. Honey, you know, when it's warmed up, it looks like water, but then when you cool it, it turns to stone or to a hard substance. This is what occurred in these lung diseases. And so, it has nothing to do... Look, and it's also absurd because you will hear people say the FDA doesn't regulate the e-liquids industry, the manufacturers of these e-liquids that you would buy in a vape shop. Well that's not true.

Julie :
Gottlieb, again, who I mentioned earlier, who's no fan of the vaping industry, he actually said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, he said, "Look, we've conducted, the FDA has conducted thousands of checks on vape shops and inspections of manufacturing sites," and they do testing on actual e-liquids to make sure that they contain the FDA-approved, what we know [inaudible 00:22:00] approved ingredients. And so these things are safe. The ones that are in a licensed and legitimate and regulated vape shop are safe.

Julie :
But again, in states where, for instance, THC products and marijuana is illegal, these people are buying these things off the street. It's a black market, and they're not regulated and they're not safe. And so you have these lung diseases. So what's so sad is that you're seeing a conflation of a black market sold product with a regulated and inspected, you know, vape liquid manufactured product, and then you get headlines like, you know, "Vaping is killing people."

Jennifer:
Right.

Julie :
And it's not the same. And as long as your child is... And again, children shouldn't be doing it anyway, but it's really the drug-related issues that are causing these lung diseases.

Jennifer:
Right. So these headlines, these panicky headlines about the lung disease and the deaths and all that have led a number of states, including the state I live in, Massachusetts-

Julie :
Yeah.

Jennifer:
To temporarily ban the sale of e-cigarettes. I think Massachusetts is one of seven states that have-

Julie :
Yeah.

Jennifer:
That have frozen the sale of e-cigarettes pending, you know, further investigation. What do you think about that?

Julie :
Well, I think it's really bad because look, you know-

Jennifer:
Just to play devil's advocate, right-

Julie :
Right.

Jennifer:
Why not hit the pause button while the CDC investigators further?

Julie :
Well look, it's a good question, and some people see that as a reasonable step. But the bottom line is, and the problem is, is there are former smokers who use e-cigarettes to continue their cessation sort of journey, okay? And so when you do something like this, when you temporarily ban something, you will put thousands of vape shops out of business. And that means that these people will not be able to get the product that they need, the flavors that they need, in order to vape.

Julie :
And flavors, people think, "Oh gosh, these sweet and dessert flavor and fruit flavors and bubblegum flavors, they only attract kids." That's not true. Again, the CDC data shows that adults prefer the same flavors as kids. And so, you know, people think that adult former smokers, "Oh, well they must only want tobacco flavor or they must only want menthol." That's not true. Actually, a lot of smokers prefer to go to, like for instance, mango is a very popular flavor, and they prefer to go to something that's completely different than tobacco because they don't want to feel triggered. They don't want to be tempted to go back to cigarette smoking. And many of them actually enjoy the different flavors.

Julie :
And so by banning these things, you're really hurting, you might say, "Oh, it's for the kids," but you're really hurting former smokers who, if they don't get the flavor they want, or if the only flavor that's available is tobacco, they might feel like now I need.

Julie :
I mean, we've seen some testimony on this, how smokers, former smokers, you got to understand, these people are addicts. They're addicts to nicotine. The way they became addicted was through traditional cigarettes. And if you forced these people to only have a tobacco flavor or a menthol flavor, sort of what they used to do, it's a trigger, and it will force a lot of people back to cigarettes. And also people will say, "Look, what's the point? What's the point of vaping if I can't get a flavor that I like? I'll just smoke. It's just easier." So there a lot of reasons-

Jennifer:
I will tell you that one thing we've seen a lot of here in Massachusetts, which, you know, we're a relatively small state, and it's easy to zip over the border to New Hampshire-

Julie :
Yeah. Yeah.

Jennifer:
And buy stuff that you can't buy here. And we have seen and heard anecdotally, and as well as, you know, more serious investigation, people lining up at vape shops in New Hampshire to get their stuff.

Julie :
Yeah.

Jennifer:
And the other thing I know about, actually personally, is I have a friend's daughter who knew that the governor was going to ban e-cigarettes and stockpiled them before it happened, and is now selling them out of her dorm room.

Julie :
Right. Right, and this is-

Jennifer:
So people are going to get what they want. They're going to find a workaround.

Julie :
They're going to find a workaround. And what we're going to see too, is that the federal government, you know, President Trump announced this ban, he's now backed off of it, but certainly these governors are doing the same, you nailed it there. People are going to get it. They're going to get the flavor they want.

Julie :
And you know where they're going to get it from? They're going to get it from the black market and we're going to see more lung injuries. We're going to see them coming in from China. We're going to see them coming in from Mexico. We're going to see them coming in from people making them in their bathtub, and then we will see more lung injuries because you know what? They'll use some sort of ingredient to cut the flavor, to cut the e-liquid, and to make it more easily vaporized, and will be an ingredient that will harm people. And there's no regulation of the black market. That's why a lot of people make a lot of money off the black market.

Julie :
So the answer is really to keep these things in the marketplace and to regulate them. And look, fine. Tax them, do whatever. Ban bulk sales. Raise the age. There are some things that we can be doing that will help this problem, but making it illegal and then hurting actual smokers, that's what's really concerning.

Julie :
But you know, these headlines are also driving the attorney generals in the state to sue manufacturers because I think they know that certainly the public will applaud them. And I'd like to ask you, as the lawyer on the call, about some of these lawsuits. We've seen one in New York recently against Juul itself. Juul is one of the most popular e-cigarette companies. Have you read much about these lawsuits and how do you feel about them? Do they have a chance and how will this affect the industry?

Jennifer:
Yeah, a little bit. I mean, the attorneys general of New York, California, and North Carolina have all brought suits against Juul. And typically, I'm against these type of lawsuits against any legal products where you have politicians suing, you know, a company for making an illegal product and essentially trying to reap a financial windfall-

Julie :
Right.

Jennifer:
And basically, you know, pay off state debts and fun pet projects, and just get more money for their state or their local government by going after a deep pocket.

Julie :
Yes.

Jennifer:
You know, and lawyers like to call it regulation by litigation, right?

Julie :
Right, right, right.

Jennifer:
They sort of fail to be able to regulate a product because maybe there's not political support for doing so, and so they bring these lawsuits to try to extract changes. But what they also try to do is just get a huge windfall for the government.

Julie :
Yeah.

Jennifer:
And they did it with tobacco and they're trying to do it with oil and gas, although I have to say there's been very unsuccessful there. And you know, they've tried to do it with opioids by going after the pharmaceutical companies. So it's really just another example of sort of political litigation, which generally I don't approve of.

Jennifer:
I think what's a little bit different about these lawsuits is they don't seem to be using the public nuisance theory that's been used with other products. They're really using specific state laws that prohibit marketing of these products youths-

Julie :
Yeah.

Jennifer:
Or selling to youths. And they're claiming, and you know, I don't know what the facts are and whether the allegations are true, but they're claiming that companies took emails from young people and then direct marketed to them products that they shouldn't have been marketing to 14 year olds.

Julie :
Yeah.

Jennifer:
So that's, you know, that's a factual dispute, I can't weigh in on that, but that's one of the types of claims.

Julie :
Well, it's interesting too though that one of their claims is that, okay, Juul targeted them, Juul sold to minors, but if you look at the data on minors and how they get ahold of these things, they don't just walk into a 7-eleven and buy them. I mean, again, this is part of this data that the CDC has gathered, that it shows that the vast majority, I don't know the exact percentage, but it's very high, of teens obtain these Juul products and all e-cigarette products, again, not from retailers, licensed retailers, they received them from kind of these bulk sale things. You mentioned, you know, a young woman you know who's selling things out of her college dorm. They're getting them from friends and family members and people they know.

Julie :
So what's kind of interesting to me is that seems to be kind of a killer of the suit. If you're suggesting, and I'm reading about this suit, I have it up on my screen right now, you know, like the attorney general of New York is saying... And the marketing question is, again, I don't know the details of that either, but even so, but she says like they were selling it. She actually says, "They were selling these things to teens," but there's really not a lot of evidence that teens are getting it this way from retailers.

Jennifer:
Right.

Julie :
So [crosstalk 00:31:46].

Jennifer:
I think what's interesting is, you know, it's one thing to say you can't deliberately sell to youth or do direct marketing where you're sending them emails-

Julie :
Yeah.

Jennifer:
Or giving them coupons and stuff, right?

Julie :
Right. Right.

Jennifer:
But one of the other claims I believe in the New York suit, if not all of them, really just has to do with advertising and the image that's portrayed.

Julie :
Yeah.

Jennifer:
So one of the lawsuits says that it's illegal that these companies had an ad with a beautiful looking model, and I think the the tagline was "lights, camera, vapor." Okay?

Julie :
Okay.

Jennifer:
Why is that illegal? Why is that illegal? I mean, it's a legal product and everybody's going to try to make their product look attractive.

Julie :
Well, but this is the other thing, Juul is the most popular e-cigarette device, not just with teens, but with adults too. And the reason is, it's cool, okay? It looks like one of the thumb drive. It's easy to hide. You know, I don't think a lot of adults even want their... Some of these e-cigarette devices, and I don't mean to disparage any e-cigarette device, but they look like those removable hard drives. They're huge, right? Or they kind of look a little bit unwieldy.

Julie :
And so Juul, it's small, it's sleek, it's tight, and it's attractive to everyone. Again, not just teens, it's the overall [crosstalk 00:00:33:27].

Jennifer:
Right. And it can't be, from a legal standpoint, that anytime you try to market a legal product as being cool, that that means you're marketing to kids. Right?

Julie :
Right.

Jennifer:
I mean, that can't be the legal standard. So I think those claims will certainly fail.

Julie :
Yeah. Yeah. It's just kind of silly because I think the other thing that people, I mean, I think that people filing these lawsuits don't have kids or have no sort of interaction with kids because kids want to do what's new and cool. I mean, you look at technology, right? You know, if somebody is like, "It's amazing, some of these coders." Like look at the founder of Facebook, right? He was like a young kid when he started, you know, messing around with this new technology. And so, when there is a new technology, kids like that stuff. And so I think it fails to sort of understand how kids operate.

Julie :
And you know, when I mentioned that demographic of teens who are going to experiment, no matter how much we try to tell them not to do this stuff, teen rebellion and teens doing things that adults don't want you to do is pretty common. And so again, they go for like the new fangled thing, like the new form of smoking, which was, at least when they first came out in the market, were seen as, okay, that's a Juul or an electronic cigarette.

Julie :
And so, I feel like these lawsuits, as I read about them, you know, "Oh, they targeted kids and they did this," I just don't see it as that easy. I think that, you know, again, kids are going to do what's new and hot and cool, and the newest thing, the newest form of technology, across the board, that's an attraction to kids.

Jennifer:
Right.

Julie :
So it'll be interesting to watch these and how they play out.

Jennifer:
It will. And as with so many of the issues I think that IWF researches, this is really one of those issues that it is so much more complicated and nuanced then the headlines would suggest, right?

Julie :
Yeah.

Jennifer:
And so thank you for the work you're doing, demystifying it and sort of rebutting the misperceptions that are out there so that people can, you know, make informed decisions about what they think about vaping.

Julie :
Thanks, Jennifer. And you know, our goal, and sort of my goal at the Center for Progress and Innovation is to sort of bring relief. I mean, ultimately I started writing in this way because I was an incredibly nervous mom from everything my child was coming into contact with. And then again, when I took the time, and it's been really nice to have a job where I'm paid to look into these things because it's brought me a lot of relief. And so hopefully, you know, the research that I'm doing and the work that you're doing, obviously at the Law Center focusing on this too, can bring some parents a little bit of a relief about this so-called epidemic.

Jennifer:
And where can people read more of your writings on this topic?

Julie :
So I've written on this issue, everything from national reviews to USA Today, but everything is logged at iws.org. Just go to the About Us and click on my lovely picture, and all of my writing is listed below there.

Jennifer:
Great. Thanks for being here, Julie. Really appreciate the conversation.

Julie :
Thanks for having me on.

Jennifer:
If you enjoyed this episode of She Thinks, we'd love it if you could take a moment to leave us a rating or review on iTunes and share this episode on social media. From all of us here at Independent Women's Forum, you're in control. I think, you think, she thinks.


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Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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