Manufacturers of Juul e-cigarette to sue over Israel ban

Company says government has created ‘double standard’ by allowing large tobacco companies to market their own e-cigarette products

Illustrative image of two women vaping outdoors. (iStock by Getty Images/licsiren)
Illustrative image of two women vaping outdoors. (iStock by Getty Images/licsiren)

The manufacturers of the recently banned Juul e-cigarettes petitioned Israel’s High Court on Thursday asking it to force the government to reconsider its decision.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday signed a warrant barring the import and sale of the US e-cigarettes at the recommendation of Health Ministry officials, due to the extremely high levels of nicotine in the product which poses “a grave danger to public health.”

In its petition, Juul said the government had created a “double standard” by banning its product while allowing large tobacco companies to market their own e-cigarettes which also contained high amounts of nicotine.

Juul pods contain 59 milligrams of nicotine for every milliliter of liquid, much higher than the 6-30 milligrams in other e-cigarettes. The device has already been banned in the European Union for passing the permitted 20mg/ml limit.

“It is not possible to accept the conduct of a regulator working in the dark, with a hidden agenda and strengthening the status of the tobacco companies at the expense of an alternative designed to save millions of smokers the cancerous influence of consuming tobacco,” the statement from the company said.

The company said that despite the high nicotine content, its product was safer than regular cigarettes.

It said the ban “prevented many smokers from a much less damaging alternative which does not involve inhaling cancerous tobacco smoke, while at the same time cigarettes continue to be sold unhindered and different types of cigarettes continue to enter the Israeli market,” the statement read. “The health system and the Israeli legal system cannot allow the legal, health and moral injustice that has been created by this order.”

The company stressed that “the Draconian order” signed by Netanyahu was based on a legal clause that has never been used previously, and also claimed that the Health Ministry had refused to meet with representatives who could provide the relevant information.

Illustrative: An unidentified 15-year-old high school student uses a vaping device. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Juul included medical opinions from doctors Moti Ravid and Yehuda Adler, who said in their professional opinions, use of vaporized instruments such as Juul does not expose the user to the cancerous substances found in smoking cigarettes which are responsible for most of the damage caused by smoking tobacco. In addition, the doctors said that there was no evidence e-cigarettes caused an increase in cigarette smoking.

The ban is expected to enter into effect within two weeks.

Juul entered the Israeli market in May. In the past two years it has become the most popular e-cigarette in the US, and is said to be particularly popular with teens.

Experts have said that e-cigarettes and vaping devices, though marketed as safer than regular cigarettes, could pose health risks due to their high levels of nicotine, and have warned that the products are too new to allow reliable research on their long-term effects.

Deputy Health Minister who effectively has headed the ministry since 2009, except for during the years 2011-2013 has come under scrutiny for other policies and statements that seemed to serve the interests of the tobacco companies, including hindering some efforts to curb cigarette ads and vigorously opposing the introduction of warning labels on cigarette packages.

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