Drug Dealing on the Internet –
Feb. 14, 2020 – This isn’t the first time a company selling nicotine products has been accused of targeting children. Joe Camel, the cartoon mascot for Camel cigarettes, was the subject of a similar lawsuit, Mangini vs. RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, in 1997. Under public pressure, RJR settled out of court and retired its 10-year-old Joe Camel logo. Research showed that, for kids, Joe Camel was as recognizable as Mickey Mouse. And this was only through the more limited advertising venues of the day, such as television, billboards and magazines. The lawsuit against Juul underscores the degree to which the internet and social media have increased companies’ access to underage consumers. With kids on screens more than seven hours a day, according to a 2019 report from Common Sense Media, they are more available than ever to companies who want to influence them to buy their products, whether it be through entertainment websites, educational websites or social media platforms.
Juul’s marketing on Twitter proved especially effective. Almost 81% of Twitter users who followed the official Juul Twitter account were between the ages of 13 and 20, according to the lawsuit. Juul’s quarterly retail sales were “highly correlated with the number of Juul-related tweets that appeared on Twitter”.