Juul Madness. The smoking rate for American adults and teenagers has hit an all-time low, but public-health activists are working hard to reverse the trend. They’ve renewed their attack on the vaping industry and singled out Juul Labs, the makers of an e-cigarette so effective at weaning smokers from their habit that Wall Street analysts are calling it an existential threat to the tobacco industry (whose stocks have plunged this year along with cigarette sales). From my City Journal piece:
Activists are so determined to prohibit any use of nicotine that they’re calling Juul a “massive public-health disaster” and have persuaded journalists, Democratic politicians, and federal officials to combat the “Juuling epidemic” among teenagers.
The press has been scaring the public with tales of high schools filled with nicotine fiends desperately puffing on Juuls, but the latest federal survey, released last month, tells quite a different story. The vaping rate last year among high-school students, a little less than 12 percent, was actually four percentage points lower than in 2015, when Juul was a new product with miniscule sales.
A coalition of activists and Democratic senators, including Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren, are denouncing Juul and pressing for regulations that would outlaw most vaping devices now on the market.
You’d think that progressive activists and journalists would be cheering the small company whose life-saving product has become an existential threat to Big Tobacco. But the lower the smoking rate falls, the less work there is for anti-smoking activists at groups like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which has helped lead the attack on Juul and the vaping industry. The activists need a new cause and a new enemy, and they’re not about to let the public’s health get in their way.