Juul Labs injected $3 million in July into a campaign to undo its hometown’s looming e-cigarette ban, tripling the size of the campaign’s warchest.
The money goes to the Coalition for Reasonable Vaping Regulation, a Juul-backed organization established in May to combat San Francisco’s first-of-its-kind legislation that would halt the sale of e-cigarettes. The coalition reported the latest infusion in a filing to the San Francisco Ethics Commission on Monday, bringing Juul’s total contributions for the year up to $4.5 million. Nate Allbee, the coalition’s communications director, told Forbes that the money will fund a traditional campaign comprising advertisements and canvassing.
“We are strongly supporting these efforts, as part of the growing Coalition for Reasonable Vaping Regulation, to enact strict new regulation and enforcement instead of a ban for all adults that will fuel a black market for vapor products and the increased use of deadly cigarettes,” Juul spokesperson Ted Kwong said in a statement. He added that the ballot measure recognizes “adult smokers should have access to alternatives since cigarettes still kill 40,000 Californians every year.”
Matt Myers, president of the advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told Forbes that Juul is misleading voters about what the ballot measure entails. For example, he says an existing San Francisco ban on flavored vaping products could be wiped out. “Big Tobacco believes they can buy protection if they spend enough money,” Myers said. Tobacco giant Altria acquired a 35% stake in Juul in December, bumping the latter’s valuation to $38 billion.