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To Combat Teen Vaping, JUUL Proposes Stealing Your Data

The company's new vaping device will collect a treasure trove of user data.

Image: Juul Labs

JUUL, the teen vaping teasing unicorn, is launching its first Bluetooth-connected vaping device in the UK soon, and reports are pretty astounding on the treasure trove of data these devices are going to collect. The JUUL C-1 will collect a user’s phone number, date of birth, national identification number and the extent of their vaping habit.

“We take data privacy very seriously. Data insights enable JUUL Labs to continually improve our products, and to better help adult smokers in their switching journey,” a spokesperson from Juul told Gizmodo.

JUUL claims that none of the data is shared, and the GPS data is locked on the customer’s smartphone. However, this data can probably be shared based on elections as the company claims all this data is going to be used to help people curb their habits.

The company has even debated putting a geofencing application inside the vaping device to prevent users from vaping in public places. JUUL is inspired to stop teen smoking because former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb essentially threatened to shut them down. Gottlieb was incensed by reports from the CDC that found a 78% increase in high school students using e-cigarettes in a single year.

“We think that these products can offer an alternative for currently addicted adult smokers to migrate off of combustible tobacco onto something that doesn’t have all the same risks associated with it. But it can’t come at the expense of addicting a whole generation of kids onto nicotine through these e-cigarette products,” Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb threatened “draconian” measures on JUUL and other e-cigarette products. This data grab is a guise for consumers to manage their nicotine intake, but also is another stop on JUUL’s apology tour for targeting teenagers. The New York Times famously uncovered that the company targeted youth camps and schools.

“When we launched JUUL, we had a campaign that was arguably too kind of lifestyle-oriented, too flashy,” the company’s CEO Kevin Burns told CNBC. “It lasted less than six months. It was in the early days of the product introduction. We think it had no impact on sales.”

Using some of the $12.8 billion Altria [MO] provided for a 35% stake, JUUL has gone beyond a mere apology tour and instead has shifted to hiring lawyers as the North Carolina, Massachusetts and Connecticut attorney generals have begun investigating the company.

The company has a 75% share of the market, so the teen vaping epidemic is hard to pin on anyone other than JUUL. Many believe the high levels of nicotine delivered through a JUUL device is what spurred the problem in the first place. Dr. Robert Jackler, a surgeon and Stanford professor who launched a group to study the impact of tobacco advertising, testified that JUUL “saturated social media channels frequented by underage teens … which led to viral peer to peer promotion … on youth oriented social media, especially Instagram.”

JUUL has also pondered the idea of opening its own retails locations in 2020.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash, the UK-based anti-smoking charity (Action on Smoking and Health), said to BBC News that, while the C1 had the “potential” to prevent younger people getting access to e-cigarettes, “There’s also the risk that e-cig companies could be hiding behind the promise of child protection and personalisation of the product, while in practice signing their customers up to a marketing tool which, worse still, gives them access personal health information on an individual level. Requiring adherence to data protection laws to prevent this from happening is essential and needs to be carefully monitored.”

Equities Contributor: Stephen L. Kanaval

Source: Equities News

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