Enjoy our roundup of stories that piqued our interest this week.
This week we tackle the following:
- #JUUL: How social media hyped nicotine for a new generation - CNN investigates Juul's social media practices.
- 11 Savannah businesses were caught selling alcohol to minors - Hat Tip... Age ID costs less than the fines levied.
- JUUL SHEDS ITS ANTI-SMOKING CRED AND EMBRACES BIG TOBACCO - Accepts a big investment from the maker of Marlboro.
- Pair Caught In Credit Card Fraud Scheme At Tysons Corner Center - Police say two people tried to return purchases made with a stolen credit card.
Leading e-cigarette company Juul Labs has tried to distance itself from a vast social media presence that experts say drives its popularity among teens. But a CNN investigation sheds new light on how the company was encouraging -- and at times paying for -- social media users to promote its nicotine-filled product to thousands of their followers.
Click link for video.
In all, underage subjects visited 17 businesses, ranging from restaurants and bars to convenience and grocery stores, to determine if they comply with Georgia law in regard to alcohol sales.
Out of the 17, 11 failed. The managers or licensees of the establishments were notified of the alcohol sold, that the buyer was underage, if the buyer was checked for identification, how the alcohol was served or sold, and what actions would be taken by law enforcement. The Georgia Department of Revenue Alcohol and Tobacco Division will follow up with the businesses on fines they will face as a result of the failure.
“JUUL partnering with Altria, maker of the nation’s number one cigarette brand Marlboro, and adjudicated racketeers, proves they are not in the business of saving lives and never have been,” Robin Koval, CEO of the advocacy group Truth Initiative, said in a statement.
The perks of the deal certainly support a more cynical interpretation. Cofounders James Monsees and Adam Bowen could become the world’s first vaping billionaires, at least on paper. Juul’s hedge fund investors also have the prospect of making a killing. But the windfall that caught the public’s eye is a report from CNBC that Juul received a $2 billion bonus to be distributed among its 1,500 employees, depending on how much stock they have and how much is vested. Juul declined to comment on the existence of the bonus or whether it came with golden handcuffs, but that would be one way to placate employees who were reportedly unhappy when news of the talks with Altria broke in November, bemoaning Juul’s “deal with the devil.”
Kaymeisha Keyes, 27, and Damanique Jones, 27, both of California, were charged with eight counts of credit card theft, two counts of defrauding a merchant, receiving goods from credit card and identity fraud. Police did not say if any of the stolen credit cards came from the local area.