Krishnamoorthi speaks to significance of FDA's Juul ban, even as vaping company begins appeal

A day after the Food and Drug Administration announced a ban on the sale of Juul vaping products, Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg spoke to the role the subcommittee he chairs played and the significance of this action to its focus on combating youth vaping.

Krishnamoorthi is chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, and in 2019 he launched an investigation into youth vaping that soon included Juul Labs' marketing strategies.

He said Friday that these included not only the tobacco flavors the company made available but also its paying school districts for the opportunity to speak to students directly under the pretext of addiction prevention.

"My inquiry does not concern whether adults should vape," Krishnamoorthi said. "That's up to them to decide."

Juul's marketing to youth and the company's position in the market made it a focus of the subcommittee's study, but Krishnamoorthi said the FDA's announcement Thursday wasn't one he'd been strongly anticipating. Nevertheless, he saw it as a positive sign of how seriously the agency is taking the issue of youth vaping and the lifelong addiction it can trigger.

"In my opinion, it was kind of an earthquake in the industry," Krishnamoorthi said of the announcement. "I think this is not the last word on this particular issue. I did not expect this decision necessarily."

Juul already has demonstrated that the FDA's announcement was not the final word. Joe Murillo, chief regulatory officer at Juul Labs, issued a statement shortly after the ban was announced.

"We respectfully disagree with the FDA's findings and decision and continue to believe we have provided sufficient information and data based on high-quality research to address all issues raised by the agency," Murillo wrote.

"In our applications, which we submitted over two years ago, we believe that we appropriately characterized the toxicological profile of Juul products, including comparisons to combustible cigarettes and other vapor products, and believe this data, along with the totality of the evidence, meets the statutory standard of being 'appropriate for the protection of the public health,'" he wrote.

Murillo added the company intended to seek a stay of the ban and explore its options under FDA regulations and the law. On Friday, Juul filed an emergency motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals as it prepares to appeal the decision.

"We remain committed to doing all in our power to continue serving the millions of American adult smokers who have successfully used our products to transition away from combustible cigarettes, which remain available on market shelves nationwide," Murillo added.

Krishnamoorthi said the targeting of youth is the main way Juul has differentiated itself from many other tobacco companies, according to the research of his subcommittee. But those marketing techniques do mimic ones some combustible cigarette companies once employed, he added.

Krishnamoorthi is being challenged by Junaid Ahmed of South Barrington in Tuesday's Democratic primary for the 8th Congressional District.

The winner will face the victor of Tuesday's five-way Republican primary race in November's general election. The GOP candidates are Chris Dargis of Palatine, Karen Kolodziej of Itasca, Chad Koppie of Gilberts, Peter Kopsaftis of South Barrington and Phillip Owen Wood of Carol Stream.

Though the 8th District's borders are shifting for the 2022 elections, it remains roughly centered in Schaumburg and includes areas of northwest Cook, northeast DuPage and northeast Kane counties.

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Raja Krishnamoorthi
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