SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 3, 2019 -- With Juul and other Big Tobacco companies using the same playbook as Big Tech to manipulate teens and addict a new generation to nicotine and vaping, today Common Sense announced a national public education and advocacy effort to counter Big Tobacco's dangerous and deceptive tactics and encourage policymakers to take action to protect children.
Using kid-friendly flavors, social media marketing, and a sleek high-tech design, Big Tobacco has convinced young people that "JUULing" is essential to a cool lifestyle in an era when high school smoking rates had dropped to historic lows. Despite claims they don't market to teens, these tactics have led to a new epidemic of nicotine addiction and increasing cases of serious harm -- even death -- tied to vaping.
Common Sense, the nation's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century, will launch this public education and advocacy effort as part of its Truth About Tech: How Tech Has Kids Hooked campaign. Common Sense joins a growing list of organizations, including pioneers in the anti-tobacco movement, Tobacco-Free Kids and the Truth Initiative, to make the case that Big Tobacco is spreading misinformation in order to manipulate and hook a new generation of users to nicotine.
"Big Tobacco modernized and rebranded its products and leveraged social media, YouTube, and other unregulated tech platforms to attract and addict a new generation of smokers, trading the health of young people for billions in riches," said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense. "Juul profited $1 billion last year and has shown that it will use its deep pockets to fight any efforts to slow its rise. Just like with the problems of Big Tech, the government has been slow to respond with regulation, and it's going to take strong action by advocates and parents to protect our children."
As part of this effort, Common Sense is exploring regulatory solutions at the local, state, and federal level to ensure Juul and other e-cigarette makers are treated the same as Big Tobacco. In its hometown of San Francisco, Common Sense joined SF Kids vs. Big Tobacco, a coalition of children's advocacy groups, health organizations, and parent groups fighting Juul and Big Tobacco at the San Francisco ballot box this November. Citing Juul and Big Tobacco's intent to overturn a ban on e-cigarette sales and make it easier to sell candy-flavored tobacco products to kids, Common Sense filed a paid ballot argument and is employing its resources to actively oppose and campaign against Proposition C.
Common Sense will also support efforts in Los Angeles and other cities and states across the country where legislation is expected or government is taking action against e-cigarettes.
On the public education front, the organization will create a series of public service announcements, host house parties and town halls around the country to mobilize the public, and leverage the Common Sense Media platform with its 110 million users to provide parents with independent research, advice, and trustworthy information about vaping. It will also work with the 68,000 schools and 513,000 teachers in the Common Sense Education community to provide new information and curriculum to help students think critically about Juul's marketing messages and manipulative tactics used to addict them to nicotine.
About Common Sense
Common Sense is the nation's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century. Learn more at commonsense.org.
Tanya Schevitz, Common Sense Stephanie Ong, Common Sense
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