FTC is reportedly investigating Juul’s marketing practices

Juul products are displayed at a smoke shop in New York, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018.

Seth Wenig | AP

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether e-cigarette maker Juul used deceptive marketing and targeted minors, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the investigation. 

The FTC is considering seeking monetary damages, the Journal reported, citing one of the people. The FTC began its investigation in September 2018, the Journal reported, before tobacco giant Altria invested $12.8 billion for a 35% stake in Juul. Shares of Altria slid 2% Thursday. 

Regulators have criticized Juul for fueling a teen vaping “epidemic,” scrutinizing the company’s early advertising campaigns that used young models and bright colors. Critics say the images positioned Juul as a lifestyle brand and attracted young people. Juul has said it never targeted teens but rather adult smokers. 

The Food and Drug Administration launched its own investigation into the company’s marketing practices last year, marked by a “surprise inspection” last fall of Juul’s San Francisco headquarters in which investigators seized thousands of pages of documents.

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