- Juul paid the American Journal of Health Behavior $51,000 to publish 11 company-funded studies.
- Three of the journals editorial board members resigned in protest, the New York Times reported.
- The expense is dwarfed by the tens of millions the company has spent on lawsuits and lobbying.
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Ecigarette-maker Juul paid $51,000 to buy out an entire issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior and make it publicly available, the New York Times reported.
The AJHB’s May/June issue published 11 company-funded studies that promote the health benefits of Juul devices in helping smokers quit traditional tobacco products.
“Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) represent a significant opportunity to realize tobacco harm reduction at the population level around the world,” the authors write in an introduction to the journal.
Juul is the most widely used ENDS system in the country, but its popularity is a major reason why it is under such close scrutiny. The brand became nearly a household name – and incredibly popular with teenagers – from its aggressive marketing of nicotine delivery systems with candy-like flavoring and a convenient pod format.
Regulators at the Food and Drug Administration are weighing a decision over whether the company will be allowed to continue selling its products in the US, but major heath organizations have called on the agency to reject Juul’s application.
In its conflict of interest statement at the beginning of the issue, the journal discloses that Saul Shiffman, who is authored on all but one of the articles, is an exclusive consultant to Juul Labs, and that Juul employee Erik Augustson oversaw all of the behavioral research in the study.
According to the Times, three editorial board members resigned from the journal in protest.
Various estimates put the AJHB’s “impact factor” at roughly 1.5, which means that one or two articles from the prior two years are cited by other researchers. The Journal of the American Medical Association has an impact factor of 45.
Juul’s five-figure buyout of the journal issue is part of a public influence campaign that the Center for Responsive Politics tallied at more than $3.9 million in 2020 alone.
That amount is further dwarfed by a legal settlement the company reached with the state of North Carolina in which it will pay $40 million to avoid a jury trial over the question of whether it illegally marketed nicotine products to teens.