for the rest.Juul: Taking Academic Corruption to a New Level
The e-cigarette company bought an entire issue of a scholarly journal, with all the articles written by authors on its payroll, to ‘prove’ that its product has a public benefit.
For years, I’ve followed the story of Juul, which came out of nowhere to control nearly the entire market for e-cigarettes. Altria, maker of Marlboros, purchased 35 percent of Juul in late 2018, valuing it at the same level as Target, Delta Airlines, and the Ford Motor Company at the time.
Juul’s dominance dissipated around the time that over a thousand people contracted a mysterious vaping-related sickness in the fall of 2019, and state and federal regulators started to investigate the company’s blatantly obvious marketing to teenagers. Within weeks, Walmart stopped stocking e-cigarettes, television ads for the product came down, cities and states banned sales, and Juul eliminated the flavored vape pods that were most clearly designed to attract young people. Juul’s market share in e-cigarettes shriveled from around 75 percent to 42 percent.
Now the company is in a fight for survival. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will soon decide whether to allow Juul to continue selling its products in the U.S. At issue is whether the public-health benefit for converting cigarette smokers to vaping outweighs introducing an entirely new generation to nicotine addiction. The decision will be made by early September.
Juul is spending millions in lobbying and persuasion to get the FDA’s green light to continue operations. But a Tuesday New York Times article on the subject contained a fascinating nugget midway through, which could be described as a buried lede (journalese for putting the most explosive part of a story in the middle of the piece). Juul, the Times reports, “paid $51,000 to have the entire May/June issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior devoted to publishing 11 studies funded by the company offering evidence that Juul products help smokers quit.”
We are the Borg.
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