Possible Altria-Juul Partnership Would Join Companies with Most Popular Cigarette and E-Cigarette Brands Among Kids

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
November 28, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Wall Street Journal reported today that Altria, parent company of cigarette maker Philip Morris USA, is in talks to take a significant stake in Juul Labs, whose e-cigarette has driven an epidemic of youth use.

A partnership between Altria and Juul would bring together companies that sell the most popular cigarette and e-cigarette brands among kids (Marlboro and Juul). These talks call into question Juul’s seriousness when they say their mission is to help adult smokers by eliminating cigarettes. If Juul really wants to eliminate cigarettes, why would they even consider partnering with a company that not only makes the best-selling cigarette brand among kids, but has repeatedly fought efforts to reduce smoking? Just this year, Altria spent over $23 million against ballot measures to raise cigarette taxes in Montana and South Dakota, knowing full well that raising the cigarette tax is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among kids.

The similarities between Juul and Altria go beyond the fact that they sell the most popular tobacco products among kids. Juul has followed Big Tobacco’s playbook by engaging in marketing that appeals to kids, denying any responsibility for youth use of its products, and hiring high-priced lobbyists to help it fight effective regulation. So why not go all the way and join forces with Big Tobacco?

The possible Juul-Atria partnership underscores the need for effective FDA regulation of e-cigarettes and all tobacco products to stop tobacco companies from reversing decades of progress and addicting another generation of kids.