Altria buys stake in JUUL: What it means

Altria buys stake in JUUL: What it means

  By Betsy Brock Research Director Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, recently purchased a stake in JUUL, the company that manufactures the wildly popular e-cigarette with the same name. JUUL controls approximately 70 percent of the e-cigarette market. The company started in 2015 and is valued at $38 billion. JUUL’s stated mission is to “improve the lives of the world’s one billion smokers by eliminating cigarettes.” The company’s merger with Altria, the country’s largest cigarette company, calls this mission into question. It is hard to understand how a company can strive to eliminate cigarettes from the marketplace while partnering with a company that controls the largest cigarette market share in the U.S. Altria paid $12.8 billion for a 35 percent ownership stake in JUUL. As a part of this agreement, Altria agreed to adopt and support the JUUL mission, provide JUUL with premier tobacco product retail shelf space, allow JUUL to communicate with consumers via cigarette pack inserts and marketing databases, allow JUUL to remain in control, apply logistics and distribution experience to help JUUL, and provide funds that benefit JUUL employees and investors. This agreement means JUUL will have access to Altria’s vast and substantial marketing networks. Altria typically controls the most valuable and noticeable shelf space behind convenience store cash registers on the so-called tobacco “power wall.” Further, Altria has a consumer marketing database with an estimated 25 million names. JUUL is taking other steps to expand their reach. They recently hired a full-time lobbyist who is based in Minnesota. The lobbyist who has extensive experience lobbying for the medical device industry will lead lobbying efforts...
Lauderdale 14th T21 city, also restricts all flavored tobacco sales

Lauderdale 14th T21 city, also restricts all flavored tobacco sales

  Like many of its neighboring cities, Lauderdale placed a priority on the health of its youth and residents on Oct. 23, 2018, when the City Council unanimously voted to restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products and to raise the tobacco sales age to 21. Lauderdale is the 14th Minnesota city to raise the tobacco sales age to 21. Edina, Saint Louis Park, Bloomington, Plymouth, North Mankato, Falcon Heights, Shoreview, Minneapolis, Saint Peter, Richfield, Roseville, Minnetonka and Excelsior have also raised the tobacco sales age to 21. More than 95 percent of current smokers started smoking before they turned 21. If youth don’t start smoking before the age of 21, they likely never will. Community members and high school students spoke up in favor of the two measures during the public hearing two weeks ago. Hearing from the students about the prevalence of tobacco use, particularly e-cigarettes, in local schools cemented things for council member Jeffrey Dains. “It was very impressive to have the young people come in and talk about the significant tobacco usage,” Dains said. “I was persuaded before they came, but even more so after they came. It was heartening to hear them.” For the first time in 17 years, the youth tobacco use rate climbed, according to the 2017 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey. Much of the increase has been attributed to increased use of e-cigarettes and cheap, flavored cigars. “I’m proud to live in a city that puts the lives of their community members over tobacco industry profits,” resident and advocate Melissa Walker said. “I lost my father to cancer, and my husband...
Falcon Heights restricts sale of all flavored tobacco products, raises tobacco sales age to 21

Falcon Heights restricts sale of all flavored tobacco products, raises tobacco sales age to 21

  Falcon Heights took major steps to protect its youth and residents on May 9, when it became the first city in the state to restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products to adult-only tobacco stores and raise the tobacco sales age to 21. The measures passed on a 3-2 vote. Falcon Heights is the second city in two days – and seventh overall in Minnesota – to raise the tobacco sales age to 21, following Shoreview, which voted to raise the age to 21 on Monday. Edina, Saint Louis Park, Bloomington, Plymouth and North Mankato have also raised the tobacco sales age to 21. More than 95 percent of current smokers started smoking before they turned 21. If youth don’t start smoking before the age of 21, they likely never will. Mayor Peter Lindstrom cast the deciding vote after talking about how the letters he received in support of the ordinance hit home for him. He quoted a student who wrote, “We need to make the healthiest choice the easiest choice.” “For 17 years, all the efforts have worked, but there’s been a change, and we need to double down our efforts now. Not tomorrow, but now,” Lindstrom said, citing the Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey, which saw an increase in youth tobacco use for the first time in 17 years. Much of the increase has been attributed to increased use of e-cigarettes and cheap, flavored cigars. “It’s everywhere,” said Roseville Area High School junior Vakare Bartkaitis. “There are no doors on our bathrooms because of people using e-cigarettes. You can smell it walking into the bathrooms. They...
Robbinsdale restricts sale of flavored  tobacco products, sets cigar minimum price

Robbinsdale restricts sale of flavored tobacco products, sets cigar minimum price

The Robbinsdale City Council took strong measures to protect youth from the harms of tobacco on Dec. 5. The City Council voted unanimously to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products to adult-only tobacco stores and to establish a minimum price for cheap, flavored cigars. Robbinsdale is the fifth Minnesota to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco, following, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Shoreview and Saint Louis Park. Several Minnesota cities have set minimum prices for cigars, including Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Brooklyn Center, Bloomington, Richfield and Maplewood. “For me, I want to lead and not just say the lowest common denominator is what we should go with,” councilmember Dan Rogan said after the first reading. “This change makes sense. It puts us in line with what other forward-looking communities are doing who are trying to address this.” In Robbinsdale, flavored cigars cost as little as three for 89 cents. This ordinance sets a minimum price of $2.60 per cigar and $10.40 for packs of four or more. Moving flavored cigars, which are often brightly packaged and are geared toward youth initiation, to adult-only tobacco stores reduces the visibility of the products. “Thank you to the city council for taking the steps to make Robbinsdale a healthier city,” said advocate Kate Richardson, who organized support within the community for the policies. “I’m thankful your involvement and concern for the issue and for listening to residents and taking it into consideration. “I look forward to continuing the process in making our city great and continuing the conversation around increasing the tobacco sales age to 21 in the near future. “We’ve taken a great...
Saint Louis Park first MN city to restrict flavors, raise tobacco sales age to 21

Saint Louis Park first MN city to restrict flavors, raise tobacco sales age to 21

The Saint Louis Park City Council showed its dedication to protecting its youth on Dec. 4. The City Council voted unanimously to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products within the city. This is the second major initiative the city has undertaken to reduce youth smoking. The city also raised the tobacco sale age to 21. The city is the fourth in Minnesota to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco, following, Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Shoreview. Earlier this year, Saint Louis Park was the second city to raise the sale age for tobacco products to 21. It is the first city in Minnesota to do both. “I’m proud we passed Tobacco 21, but this is also necessary,” councilmember Sue Sanger said during the hearing on Nov. 20. “Big Tobacco is aiming (these products) at younger people to get them hooked. I brought this issue up more than a year ago with the goal and hope of improving the public health of the entire community but especially the public health of our younger population and to try and make it more difficult for younger people to have access to flavored tobacco and all tobacco products.” In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration banned flavoring in cigarettes but didn’t extend this to other tobacco products. Saint Louis Park’s action closes that loophole. The tobacco industry has a long history of targeting young people with flavored tobacco. “Most start out because it seems cool,” said Saint Louis Park High sophomore Eitan Weinstein, “But it can lead to nicotine addiction and further health problems in the future.” Matt Flory, president elect of the...
Minneapolis restricts sale of menthol tobacco

Minneapolis restricts sale of menthol tobacco

Minneapolis – The Minneapolis City Council showed strong leadership in protecting the health and well-being of its residents on Aug. 4 by restricting the sale of menthol tobacco products to adult-only tobacco and liquor stores. The council passed the ordinance 10-2. Council Members Cam Gordon and Lisa Bender co-authored the ordinance, which is designed to reduce youth smoking and combat tobacco industry targeting. “The community, especially many of our youth and a wide range of community members, asked us to do more to address the unique dangers of menthol tobacco,” Gordon, chair of the Health, Environment and Community Engagement Committee, said. “The deadly consequences of tobacco use are undeniable, and limiting youth access to menthol tobacco is one thing we can do to prevent some people from starting and getting addicted, which will improve the health of future generations.” The tobacco industry has targeted the African American community for five decades with menthol tobacco products. The industry also highly targets youth, women and the LGBTQ community. “I am proud to support our youth in their effort to restrict access to menthol tobacco in order to reduce the likelihood they will start using tobacco products and ultimately suffer from preventable problems, including heart disease and cancer,” Bender said. “We know the marketing of these products is targeted to young people, specifically black youth, and we’ve heard loud and clear from these young people that they do not want these products readily available in their communities.” The ordinance had tremendous community support behind it, including 50-plus organizations involved in the Minnesota Menthol Coalition, as well as numerous African American Community leaders....
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