In the latest chapter of an ongoing, multi-district federal lawsuit against Juul Labs and Atria Group, the defendants are asking for the court to dismiss racketeering charges.
For those who aren’t familiar with legal jargon, racketeering is a term used to refer to fraudulent business practices within the context of civil or criminal liability.
Altria and Juul were accused of racketeering because of the underlying legal challenge against the two companies for reportedly marketing their products directly to youth.
However, both companies maintain that they never ever marketed their children directly to youth, citing that their marketing strategies have evolved drastically since the massive market launch of Juul devices on social media.
While claims regarding the marketing of these products could be considered predatory in some degree, the base argument that marketing adult products to adults on social media platforms, dominated by adults, is quite lacking and differs extremely from the overt youth-targeted marketing propagated by big tobacco companies.
For instance, Juul Labs has been criticized many times over for their #Vaporized social media campaign. Tobacco control researchers have pointed to the company’s early social media influencer-focused strategy emulates typical marketing trends that appeal to young people and adults.
However, the marketing strategies they claim to appeal to youth are also proven marketing strategies that directly resonate with young adults who are of legal age to use nicotine-containing vapor products.
If Altria and Juul are successful in dismissing racketeering charges, they can openly claim that the majority of accusations that large tobacco and vape companies willingly targeted youth were false.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t dismiss the potential liability of these companies for not self-regulating points of sale and other sales channels that were mainstream components for youth vapers to obtain products illegally.