Legal Battles

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Lunges Headfirst into Juul Investigation

Ken Paxton's new fight is with Juul.
Ken Paxton's new fight is with Juul. Shutterstock
Thanks to federal Food and Drug Administration regulations, finding flavored Juul disposable nicotine pods in Dallas became a chore earlier this year. That doesn't mean Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is satisfied.

Tuesday, Paxton announced that his office is leading a bipartisan, 39-state investigation into Juul Labs, the company behind the popular flavored pods. Paxton's office has previously led crusades against opioid manufacturers, Volkswagen and robo-callers.

Juul, according to the attorney general, may have targeted underage users, misled customers about the nicotine content in its vape products and made misleading statements about Juul's effectiveness as a stop-smoking aid.

“I am pleased to be working alongside other states to determine whether any of Juul’s statements or business practices mislead or otherwise harmed consumers,” Paxton said. “Protecting Texans from deceptive business practices is a high priority for my office, and I am committed to holding companies accountable for the quality, effects and marketing of their products.”

Rather than address Paxton's claims, Juul touted the steps it's already taking in the face of tougher regulations.

“Protecting Texans from deceptive business practices is a high priority for my office, and I am committed to holding companies accountable for the quality, effects and marketing of their products.” — Ken Paxton

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“We will continue to reset the vapor category in the U.S. and seek to earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with attorneys general, regulators, public health officials and other stakeholders to combat underage use and transition adult smokers from combustible cigarettes," said Austin Finan, a Juul spokesman.

"As part of that process in the U.S., we are preparing comprehensive and scientifically rigorous Premarket Tobacco Product Applications, stopped the sale of flavored pods other than Tobacco and Menthol in November, halted our television, print and digital product advertising, implemented a $1 billion restructuring plan and support the administration’s final flavor policy."

Finan said Juul wants its product to be used by adults only.

"Our customer base is the world’s 1 billion adult smokers, and we do not intend to attract underage users,” he said.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young