Tariffs on Chinese goods are bad for your finances, many argue, given the amount of consumer good and parts that are imported from China. But Juul, the controversial e-cigarette maker, has gone one step further than that. It argues they could be bad for your health, too.
A 25% tariff on lithium batteries, which are used in Juul’s e-cigarette portable charging case, will result in a “direct price increase, which is likely to make the product less affordable to the average consumer,” the e-cigarette maker recently told the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.
Juul isn’t the only company worried about costs. Lithium batteries are used in everything from renewable energy to iPhones and children’s toys.
Juul isn’t the only company worried about lithium battery costs. Lithium batteries are used in everything from renewable energy and portable jump-starters to get stalled cars moving to Apple’s iPhones AAPL, +0.80% and children’s toys.
But Juul has a novel, perhaps even an audacious, argument. “Making Juul’s product cost-prohibitive for such consumers may, in turn, lead them to revert to the use of combustible tobacco products, which may increase the costs of health care to those consumers as well as US health insurers,” the company’s letter added.
The company is pleading for an exemption President Donald Trump’s tariffs. Trump is threatening another round of 25% tariffs for approximately $300 billion in goods, including lithium batteries. That’s in addition to the 25% tariffs imposed on Chinese imports last year.
The San Francisco, Calif.-based Juul Labs, valued at $15 billion, is one of many companies worrying about additional tariffs. They vary from big retailers to small fireworks sellers. Some researchers say the tariffs already in place will cost the average American household $831 a year.
More than 300 representatives from American manufacturers, retailers and trade groups are scheduled to testify on the prospect of further tariffs before the U.S. International Trade Commission. The testimonies began Monday and run until June 25.
Around 480,000 deaths every year are linked to cigarette smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Juul presents itself as a “smoking alternative” with the goal of improving smokers’ lives.
‘E-cigarettes are potentially dangerous to your health. You’re exposing yourself to all kinds of chemicals that we don’t yet understand.’
Vaping is generally considered less harmful than cigarettes because users are ingesting fewer chemicals compared to traditional cigarettes, according to Michael Joseph Blaha, a doctor who works at the Johns Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Baltimore, Md.
Nicotine is addictive, he said. “People need to understand that e-cigarettes are potentially dangerous to your health,” he added. “You’re exposing yourself to all kinds of chemicals that we don’t yet understand and that are probably not safe.”
But vaping is not necessarily healthier, Blaha added. Researchers and government regulators are worried that vaping is spreading like wildfire among teens and young adults lured by e-cigarette flavors. The Food and Drug Administration is also targeting influencers who promote vaping.
In fact, vaping may actually be a gateway to smoking for young Americans. The FDA said there was a 78% rise in current e-cigarette use among high schoolers from 2017 to 2018, and a 48% increase for middle schoolers over the same time frame.
Juul says it supports raising smoking age limits from age 18 to 21. The company stopped selling flavored pods in stores late last year to fight underage use. The flavors are still for sale on Juul’s site with age verification. (A starter kit, which includes four 5% nicotine strength pods, costs $49.99.)