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38 states join Connecticut's Juul investigation

Feb. 25 (UPI) -- A coalition of 28 states joined Connecticut's investigation into Juul's marketing and sales practices of vaping products, Virginia's attorney general announced Tuesday.

Mark Herring said the bipartisan investigation includes Juul's alleged targeting of youth, claims of nicotine content, and statements regarding the risks, safety and efficacy of vaping as a smoking cessation tactic.

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"The number of young people in Virginia and across the country who are vaping or using e-cigarettes is truly a public health crisis," he said. "While we have made great strides in reducing the number of young people who use more traditional tobacco-based products, we are now, unfortunately, seeing the number of Virginia teens vaping and using e-cigarettes climb at an alarming rate.

"Nicotine can have seriously negative affects on the developing brain, which is why it is so important that we keep all tobacco-based products out of the hands of young people. This investigation is just one of the many approaches we must take as a society to stop this growing youth vaping epidemic."

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The probe, originally launched by Connecticut in July, comes amid growing scrutiny over the targeting of vaping devices to minors. Some critics say vaping companies use a variety of vaping flavors to appeal to young people.

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The Trump administration instituted a ban on any non-tobacco or non-menthol flavored vaping products earlier this month.

The ban was put in place in spite of evidence suggesting e-cigarettes may help cigarette smokers quit. Debate about their efficacy in smoking cessation aside, experts say the appeal of flavored e-cigarettes among adolescents and teens is a more pressing public health issue.

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An analysis of the Monitoring the Future study published in November revealed that e-cigarette use among teens had more than doubled between 2017 and 2019, with 27.5 percent of high school students and 10.5 percent of middle schoolers reporting current e-cigarette use.

In analyses of data from teen surveys, Barrington-Trimis and researchers at USC found teens preferred mango and mint flavored pods by significant margins. The studies suggest the flavors may have encouraged young people to use the products, as did heavy marketing in stores and on social media.

Brian P. Dunleavy contributed to this report.

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