Juul prepares to fight San Francisco

Remember the douchy Juul CEO who is so awfully, terribly sorry that teenagers use his product?

Well, while researching douche-bro, I found out he’s preparing to go to war with San Francisco.

San Francisco a few weeks ago was the first major city in the U.S. to ban sales of e-cig products.

Ironically, Juul, the No. 1 e-cig company in the world (it is actually partly owned by Altria, which makes Marlboro cigarettes), is based in San Francisco.

Douche-bro CEO Kevin Burns, who is so awfully sorry teens use his product after his company aggressively marketed Juuls on social media for years, said Juul is not leaving San Francisco.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

  • As San Francisco officials prepare to consider a bill that would suspend the sale of e-cigarettes in the city, the CEO of Juul Labs — the controversial, homegrown company that sells the majority of e-cigarettes in the U.S. — said he’s committed to keeping the business and its fast-growing workforce in San Francisco.

“Yes, we’re staying,” Juul CEO Kevin Burns said Thursday in a wide-ranging interview with The Chronicle’s editorial board. “San Francisco is our home. We want to be in San Francisco. We have 1,200 employees in San Francisco, a huge talent base in San Francisco. We want to be a resident, and I’m hopeful we’ll find a way to be a resident.”

And beyond that, Juul is going to fight the city’s ban on selling vaping products. The company is sponsoring a sneaky voter initiative that is being presented as an anti-tobacco initiative. What it really is is a backdoor attempt to override San Francisco’s ban on e-cigarette sales.

From the Chronicle:

Juul wants to place an initiative on the November ballot that would essentially override [San Francisco’s e-cig sales ban], if it is passed, by ensuring that e-cigarettes could continue to be sold in San Francisco. The ballot measure is being framed as an attempt to further restrict tobacco sales to minors, but most of those restrictions are already in place under state law.

Tobacco industry critics say Juul has used deceptive language, trying to frame the initiative as the last word in tobacco regulation in San Francisco by including the words “Comprehensive regulation of vapor products … the provisions of this initiative may only be amended by a vote of the people.”

Juul said the ballot measure, if passed, would prevent the Board of Supervisors from enacting an e-cigarette ban in the future — but it would not negate tobacco laws the city has already enacted, such as a ban on flavored tobacco that voters passed last year.

Oh, sneaky, sneaky, sneaky bastards, using the same sneaky doublespeak techniques that their overlord Altria and Philip Morris have used for years.

UPDATE: Man dies from vaping illness

It appears at least one person has died in the surge of vaping-related illnesses, mostly in the Midwest.

An Illinois man who came down with a sudden respiratory illness after vaping died. All told, at least 193 lung illnesses have been identified as being related to vaping. There are dozens more cases under investigation that might be tied to this outbreak.

It appears that there was a contaminated or purposely poisoned batch of vaping fluid. And it appears it was being sold on the streets. Reportedly, it’s both nicotine and marijuana involved, though all the stories I’ve read seem to be hinting that this is mostly happening with THC vaping fluid.

From an NBC News story:

In Wisconsin, a 26-year-old man started to feel ill and was hospitalized after taking a couple of hits from a new vape cartridge. Dylan Nelson of Burlington, Wisconsin, eventually had to be put into a medically induced coma after his lungs started filling with liquid.

He has since been released and is recovering.

His brother, Patrick DeGrave, said that Nelson purchased the cartridge off the street and not from a reputable shop.

“You don’t know if you’re buying something from a middleman that picked it up from a dispensary or if you’re buying it from somebody who has tampered with it and made their own mixture,” he said. “You literally don’t know what you’re inhaling into your body.”

Juul’s owner is so awfully sorry

Juul CEO Kevin Burns

This happened a while ago, but I’m just now getting to it. I really got a kick out of it. And it pissed me off.

The owner of Juul actually apologized for the role his company played in helping to popularize e-cig use by teenagers.

It totally came off like an old Monty Python bit … “I’m so sorry, so awfully sorry I murdered all those people …  Gosh, I’m sorry …”

Yeah, he’s sorry he’s a billionaire, too, I’m sure.

From a USA today article:

“First of all, I’d tell them that I’m sorry that their child’s using the product,” said Kevin Burns, who joined Juul in late 2017. “It’s not intended for them. I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them. As a parent of a 16-year-old, I’m sorry for them, and I have empathy for them, in terms of what the challenges they’re going through.”

Oh, baloney, Kevin Burns, especially his bullshit about “I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them.”

Teen girl using a Juul

Juul was one of the vaping companies that most aggressively and successfully used social media to advertise its products, including Instragram “influencers.” Jull very quickly came to dominate the e-cig industry, gaining control of over 70 percent of the industry. This guy Burns is so full of it. He apologized because he got called to testify before congress and because lawsuits are piling up against Juul over addicting kids to nicotine (it turns out Juul pods are considerably more powerful with higher amounts of nicotine than other e-cig companies). This really takes the cake as one of the phoniest “apologies” I’ve ever seen. The L.A. Times even wrote an op-ed piece called, “Let’s call it a Juuling epidemic.”

From the USA Today article:

Yet Juul’s critics point to the company’s initial advertising campaign, which featured bright colors and young looking models, as evidence that Juul fueled the surge in teen vaping. Co-founder Adam Bowen said in retrospect the ads were “inappropriate.”

“When we launched Juul, we had a campaign that was arguably too kind of lifestyle-oriented, too flashy,” he said. “It lasted less than six months. It was in the early days of the product introduction. We think it had no impact on sales.”

The Campaign for Smokefree Kids thought the same of Burns’ apology as I did.

From their press release:

Once again, Juul is following the tobacco industry’s playbook: Proclaim loudly that they don’t want kids to use their product, while never admitting that their marketing targeted and attracted kids. Like its partner Altria, Juul still refuses to admit that the company’s marketing targeted kids or has played a major role in youth use of its e-cigarettes – despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

This is a deceptive, self-serving gesture by Juul given their complete refusal to take responsibility for creating the youth e-cigarette epidemic. It is a blatant attempt to deflect attention from the company’s wrongdoing while it opposes meaningful government regulation to prevent it from continuing to addict kids. There can be no doubt about Juul’s role in the current youth epidemic: It marketed a sleek, cool, high-tech product that comes in sweet flavors that appeal to kids, delivers a massive dose of nicotine that can quickly hook kids and was launched with social media marketing that a Stanford study found was patently youth-oriented.

This is one more example that Juul is more interested in repairing its image and expanding its sales than preventing youth use. Juul is following the tobacco industry’s playbook to the letter: Addict kids, deny responsibility for doing so, run slick PR campaigns to fool policy makers and the public, and fight real solutions to the problem.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Netflix to cut smoking — even on ‘Bojack’?

An oblivious Bojack blows smoke in little Sarah Lynn’s face.

Netflix announced this week that it’s cutting smoking in some of its shows.

One of the shows that has taken a lot of heat for portaying a hell of a lot of smoking is Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” The sheriff in that show is constantly smoking and Stranger Things has been specifically targeted by anti-tobacco advocates.

Personally, I’ve sure noticed that Netflix’s Bojack Horseman has a lot of smoking, but then again, it’s a show about an alcoholic, self-destructive, pill-popping, clinically depressed horse, so smoking kind of fits right in with his character. Bojack even smokes as a child after seeing Secretariat smoke on TV. His abusive mother catches him and forces him to smoke the entire cigarette just to show him that she hates him.

Bojack recalls this terrible memory of his mother’s cruelty as he’s smoking a cigarette … which he clearly isn’t enjoying.

Baby Bojack smoking his first cigarette after seeing Secretariat smoking on TV.

There’s a scene in another show where Bojack is blowing smoke right in a little girl’s face and making her cough, but he’s such a narcissist he doesn’t even notice. The scene takes place from the 1990s, when some people were still buttheads about smoking around kids.

Another interesting sidenote about Bojack Horseman. His mother smoked constantly in the show and in the end, she dies of Alzheimer’s. I wonder if the people in the show even know that studies show a connection between smoking and Alzheimer’s and if they gave that some thought.

Interesting , the rise of smoking on TV is happening while depictions of smoking is on the downswing in movies. Disney (which is also Marvel and Star Wars) has a specific policy that no smoking is allowed in its movies. (There is one really brief cigarette scene in the extreme hard R-rated “Deadpool 2”. Deadpool literally uses a cigarette to kill himself. In the commentary on that movie, Ryan Reynolds said it just made more sense that since Deadpool is killing himself, he should be smoking a cigarette, not a joint.

Bojack’s mother, Beatrice, who died of Alzheimer’s after a lifetime of smoking.

Other shows mentioned in this article are “Orange is the New Black,” and the “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

The Truth Initiative, which monitors tobacco depictions in the media, has noticed the increase in smoking onscreen in its “While You Were Streaming” report.

Teens getting mysterious lung disease from vaping

Long time since an update. I have been very busy and spend most of my spare time outdoors, hiking and trying to get back in shape this summer.

So, there’s a TON to catch up on. I will try to do this over the next few days.

First things first

Mysterious vaping illnesses

At least 150 teenagers around the U.S. have been admitted to emergency rooms with some mysterious lung disease caused by vaping.

They weren’t necessarily vaping tobacco; some of the teens were vaping marijuana.

The one common thread between all the illnesses. All of the victims were vaping. The other common thread, most of them appeared to have bought their vaping products on the street rather than legally through a store.

From an NBC News article:

“One patient came in with full respiratory collapse and essentially had to be on life support,” said Dr. Jacob Kaslow, a pediatric pulmonary fellow at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville.

Kaslow told NBC News that his hospital has treated four cases of vaping-related respiratory illness over the past six months. Tracking the cases has been tricky, as patients tend to have a variety of symptoms, including severe pneumonia and coughing up blood.

“We’re only discovering this now because we’re asking, ‘is there any history of vaping or electronic cigarette use?'” said Kaslow.

No deaths have been reported. But some patients have developed severe, progressive lung disease, and have required ongoing mechanical breathing assistance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with states to try to pinpoint an e-cigarette ingredient, e-liquid, device or purchase method linking all of the cases.

It’s unclear whether there was some kind of contamination of the devices or e-liquids that led to the 149-plus cases.

Some patients reported buying their vapes off the street.

“The evidence continues to point to street-bought vaping cartridges containing THC or synthetic drugs as being the cause of these illnesses,” Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, wrote in a statement to NBC News.

So, again, lots of questions about vaping and the contaminants that are found in vaping fluids. This isn’t the first illness tied to vaping. Vaping is already believed to be tied to a disease known as “popcorn lung” (the name comes from the fact that it was first tied to workers in popcorn factories).

San Francisco considers completely banning ALL e-cig sales

 

The city of San Francisco has HAD it with vaping!

San Francisco is considering banning the sales of ALL e-cigarette products, Period.

The city has been leading the charge against vaping. San Francisco has already banned the sales of fruity e-cigarette flavours. That ban was upheld by San Francisco city voters. Now, a San Francisco County Supervisor.

From an NBC News article:

San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced legislation banning the sale of e-cigarettes in the city unless they get an FDA review. Supporters say that if the measure is approved, it would be the first such prohibition in the country. Its chances are not clear.

“We have people addicted to nicotine who would have never smoked a cigarette had it not been for the attractive products that target our young people,” said Walton, a former president of the San Francisco Board of Education.

Anti-tobacco activists say e-cigarette makers target kids by offering products in candy flavors and using marketing that portrays their products as flashy gadgets.

San Francisco was the first city in the United States to approve an outright ban on the sale of flavored tobacco and flavored vaping liquids, which voters upheld in 2018. The city prohibits smoking in parks and public squares and doesn’t allow smokeless tobacco at its playing fields.

The FDA has been talking about cracking down on e-cigarettes because of the exponential increase in teen vaping use. However, FDA administrator Scott Gottlieb, a strong opponent of vaping and the tobacco industry, recently resigned (and I believe he was forced out by the tobacco industry and the GOP), throwing FDA efforts to regulate e-cigarettes into flux.

Washington to raise smoking, vaping age to 21

Washington is the latest state that will be raising its smoking and vaping age to 21. The Washington State Senate just passed a bill and Gov. Jay Inslee quickly signed it earlier this month.

This is a push going on nationwide in cities and states. Washington is the ninth state in the nation to raise the smoking/vaping age to 21.

This is something I’ve long had slightly mixed feelings about. I think there’s a valid argument that if you’re old enough to vote, join the military and go to adult jail, you’re old enough to smoke and vape.

From a Seattle Times article:

During debate over the measure, Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, pointed out that 18-year-olds can make major life decisions such as joining the military, and called it hypocritical to stop them from smoking if they wanted.

“The nanny state is alive and well, and this is another example,” said Padden.

However, I also hear the argument that this is a tool to stop the rapid increase in teen vaping. If you have to be 21 to buy vaping products it makes it that much harder for some 15-year-old kid to do it in a convenience store.

There are bills in other states, such as Virginia and Texas, to raise the smoking age, but I have no idea if there is any chance of passage in these states.

So, will Disney ban smoking in 20th Century Fox movies now?

Once upon a time, there was a LOT of smoking in Disney movies.

Anyway, speaking of Disney, Disney just completed a purchase of 20th Century Fox, does that now mean there will be no more smoking in 20th Century Fox movies?

This New York Times article points out that Fox has no such strict policy. And when asked about it, Disney bluntly had no comment on the matter. Interesting.

From a New York Times article:

Now antismoking advocates want Mr. Iger to extend that rule to all future youth-rated films (G, PG, PG-13) made by Fox and its Fox Searchlight specialty label, which are among the assets that Disney is buying from Rupert Murdoch for $54.2 billion. Among other things, activists want “graphic health warnings” added to youth-rated films in the Fox library that depict smoking — like “Avatar” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” — before selling them on DVD or via video-on-demand services.

The requests were made in a Feb. 20 letter to Mr. Iger that was signed by 46 activists and faith-based shareholders. Boiled down, the dispatch, which has not previously been disclosed, raises a broader question shared by some people in Hollywood: How accepting will the Magic Kingdom be of the button-pushing content offered by Fox, the home of the R-rated “Deadpool” superhero franchise, the violent “Planet of the Apes” movies and “The Simpsons,” the show that once produced an episode featuring a nicotine-laced variety of tomato called “tomacco.”

Activists are continuously pressuring studios over one cause or another, but Mr. Murdoch has frequently dismissed such efforts as political correctness run amok. Disney, on the other hand, pays extraordinary attention to its brand perception, which activists often try to use to their advantage.

“We ask you now to follow your convictions, common sense and experience in keeping kids safe,” the antismoking activists wrote in their letter, a copy of which was given to The New York Times by Jono Polansky, a policy consultant for Smoke Free Movies, an initiative at the University of California at San Francisco. “Amid the myriad details involved in a corporate acquisition of this size and complexity, Disney cannot afford to leave young people’s health and lives unprotected.”

Tom McCaney, associate director of corporate social responsibility for Sisters of St. Francis, an activist order helping to lead the antismoking effort, said that Disney’s response to the letter was unsatisfactory. “Disney told us it wasn’t appropriate to discuss until the Fox deal goes through,” Mr. McCaney said. “We disagree.”

PS — that brief smoking scene in Avatar was wildly controversial, because there is absolutely no point to it. There is absolutely NO reason for it to be in the PG-13 movie, which anti-tobacco advocates loudly pointed out. And director James Cameron lashed out, basically saying, “don’t tell me how to do my job, man…”

The article I believe had a minor error, pointing out that Deadpool and X-Men were actually Fox Studio movies. Yes, they were, but they were also Marvel properties and my understanding is that Disney’s smoking ban applied to all Marvel properties, even those Marvel properties being made by other studios. So if you noticed in the Deadpool and Logan movies … no smoking. Except ironically, Deadpool does smoke one cigarette briefly in Deadpool 2 to commit suicide by using it to light a gasoline bomb. In the director’s commentary, Ryan Reynolds said they went back and forth about whether Deadpool should be smoking a joint or a cigarette before committing suicide, and they decided on a cigarette since he’s in the middle of killing himself anyway.

No more smoking, vaping at Disneyland

 

No more smoking, vaping at Disney

Disney made news earlier this month that it is completely banning smoking and vaping at all of its properties including Disney World and Disneyland.

The ban takes effect on May 1. Disney will set up designated smoking areas outside of the parks.

This is just part of a longstanding anti-tobacco policy by Disney. The studio already banned smoking in its movies a few years ago, even Marvel movies (sorry, Wolverine, no more smoking, oh, wait, Wolverine is dead now, I guess it’s a moot point.).

Disney long had some small smoking areas in the parks. Even though it’s all outdoors, those smoking areas are being eliminated. You want to smoke, you have to leave the property and come back in.

Pointedly, vaping is also included in this ban, even though vaping has no odour.

From an Orlando Sentinel article:

It’s about time,” said Dennis Speigel, president of Ohio-based International Theme Park Services. “It’s the happiest place on Earth … Why should people be subjected to smoke at Disney?”

Not everybody agreed.

“It’s not fair,” said Denis Morissette, a Canadian tourist who waited for his daughter on a smoke break in the designated area near Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom on Thursday. “It’s legal. I think people who smoke should smoke if they want to smoke.”

Speigel said he expects the other parks will explore their smoking policies now, too.

Disney often leads the theme park industry when it comes to trends. When Disney World raises theme park admission or increases worker pay, Universal and SeaWorld typically follow suit.

Whaaa. Cry me a river. If you really have to smoke. YOU CAN STILL SMOKE. You just might have to walk a little further off the property. I thought pretty much all smokers had outgrown the whining about “fairness.” Fairness has nothing to do with it. It’s Disney’s property, they can ban smoking if they want.

N.Y. Times: Tobacco industry circling like vultures around FDA

Well, this was completely predictable. As predictable as FDA director Scott Gottlieb being forced out to begin with.

Here is a great story from the New York Times about how tobacco and vaping lobbyists are now “circling” the FDA with Gottlieb’s ouster (and yeah, I’m going to call it an ouster … if it walks like a duck …)

That’s circling as in circling like vultures.

From the New York Times article:

Dr. Gottlieb will depart at the end of this month, following his sudden announcement last week that he would resign, with his plans to toughen regulation of both vaping and smoking unfinished and powerful lobbying forces quietly celebrating the exit of a politically canny administrator who aggressively wielded his regulatory powers.

Opponents are already swooping in, making their case to Congress and reaching out to the White House. A coalition of conservative organizations that oppose government intervention in the marketplace has harshly criticized Dr. Gottlieb’s crackdown on e-cigarettes. Retailers, including convenience store and gas station owners, are on Capitol Hill lobbying against guidelines Dr. Gottlieb proposed on Wednesday to restrict sales of most flavored e-cigarettes to separate adult-only areas and to require age verification of customers.

And major tobacco companies are likely to seize on his departure to try to scuttle his long-term plans to lower nicotine levels in cigarettes to nonaddictive levels and to ban menthol cigarettes, which make up more than a third of the cigarette market and dominate sales to African-Americans. Some longtime officials inside the F.D.A. said privately that they fear these ideas could be delayed indefinitely.

“There have been well-intentioned commissioners before Gottlieb,” said Jonathan Havens, a former F.D.A. tobacco lawyer now in private practice. “But they were not as good at capturing the attention of the nation, of the stakeholders. I think that momentum could very well stall on some of these products, or be lost completely.”

It turns out Altria donated $500,000 to Trump’s inauguration committee and that both Altria and Juul, the largest e-cig brand on the market (which Altria just purchased a controlling share of months ago), have both donated thousands to right-wing lobbying firms  run by people like Grover Norquist and others. Juul spent $1.6 million in donations to lobbyists, according to the New York Times.

Gottlieb had also proposed banning menthol cigarettes and forcing cigarette makers to cut the amount of nicotine in their products. Sure enough, it turns out that when asked if the FDA planned to follow through with Gottlieb’s proposals, the response was “no comment.” (I shit you not).