WASHINGTON (AP) — The young models and the candy-colored graphics that helped propel Juul to the top of the e-cigarette market are gone. In their place are people like Carolyn, a 54-year-old former smoker featured in new TV commercials touting Juul as an alternative for middle-age smokers.
"I don't think anyone including myself thought that I could make the switch," Carolyn says, sitting in a suburban living room as piano music quietly plays in the background.
The tagline: "Make the switch."
Under intense scrutiny amid a wave of underage vaping, Juul is pushing into television with a multimillion-dollar campaign rebranding itself as a stop-smoking aid for adults trying to kick cigarettes. But the strategy is raising concerns from anti-smoking experts and activists who say the company is making unproven claims for its product.
On Thursday, six anti-tobacco and health groups called on the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates e-cigarettes, to investigate Juul's marketing efforts across TV, radio and other formats.
"Juul, a product that FDA has found to be largely responsible for the current epidemic of youth usage of highly addictive e-cigarettes, is being advertised and marketed on a massive scale as a smoking cessation product, without the required review and approval by FDA," said the letter from the American Heart Association, the Truth Initiative, the American Academy of Pediatrics and three other groups.
In a statement, FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum said only that the agency "continues to closely scrutinize potentially false, misleading or unsubstantiated claims" to make sure the public is "not misled into mistakenly using inherently dangerous tobacco products for medical uses."
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