WASHINGTON — Five leading e-cigarette companies will be dragged before Congress early next month, according to a Wednesday afternoon announcement from Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.).

It’ll be the first chance for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to question or scold many of these companies for their alleged role in fueling the growing youth vaping epidemic. Five companies, Juul, Logic, NJOY, Fontem, which makes the product “blu,” and Reynolds American, which makes “VUSE,” will testify on Feb. 5.

It’s the latest in a spate of bad news for the beleaguered industry, which has been staring down the possibility of the government banning flavored e-cigarettes altogether. Many of these companies are also the subject of multiple congressional investigations into marketing and business practices that targeted young people, according to lawmakers.  

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“While consumers remain in the dark of the possible health consequences, these companies are making billions of dollars as they lure a new generation of young people into a lifetime of nicotine addiction,” DeGette, the chair of the oversight panel conducting the hearing, wrote in a press release. 

It’s a time-honored tradition for unpopular industries to be called before Congress for high-profile tongue lashings. In years prior, drug makers, drug wholesalers, bankers, and airlines have felt Congress’ wrath. Most famously, seven tobacco executives irreparably damaged their industry’s reputation when they testified before the Energy and Commerce Committee in 1994.

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Juul will share the stage with its competitors, but it is likely to take more heat on the dais than the other four participants. 

Despite spending more than $4 million lobbying Congress in 2019, Juul has been criticized by everyone from former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for its role in fueling the youth vaping epidemic. 

The company has already been hauled before Congress this year. Juul’s co-founder and chief product officer, James Monsees, and chief administrative officer, Ashley Gould, faced a grilling before the House Oversight Committee back in July. 

The hearing is also the latest sign of Congress’ desire to seriously shake up the booming vaping market. Congress held roughly half a dozen hearings on the topic last year and recently raised the minimum age for vaping to 21. 

  • Just more pure idiocy from people who honestly know nothing. The media is largely uneducated, politicians are even more uneducated, and most of the public just knows what they read in headlines. Why would adults not like flavors?! Why is there ANYONE who would assume adults just want to use boring tobacco and menthol flavored pods? Obviously anyone with taste buds is going to prefer options, not just teenagers. It’s PARENTS responsibility to watch what their kids do, it’s not like I should have to suffer because some idiot teenagers do things they’re not supposed to do. Where is the outrage over underage drinking? That’s a constant, partially because the drinking age is as ludicrous as the smoking age — 21?! But they can drive 5,000 pound cars at 16? Yeah, alright that makes sense!

    Any legitimate research conducted on e-cigarettes has proven the same thing: It’s about as dangerous as breathing air in a moderately populated city. One study found that vaping for an entire year was about the equivalent danger of spending 30 minutes outside in a big city. They love to highlight, “Well there are trace amounts of X, Y, and Z dangerous compounds!” without telling you that, in fact, the amount of those compounds in the air you breathe daily is about 100x higher actually. I’ve used my Blu now for almost 9 years and never have any issues, gave up smoking for good, and my lungs are in incredible shape. My resting heart rate is between 47 and 50, “super athlete” level because I have no trouble working out hard since, you know, I’m inhaling WATER VAPOR that has zero chance to harm me. Do the research.

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