May 21, 2019

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Did Philip Morris double cross Juul in lobbying against the California flavor ban?

California Senator Jerry Hill, a public health advocate, has sponsored a state law, SB 38, modeled on San Francisco’s comprehensive ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products. 

The tobacco industry has been fighting this bill tooth and nail.  Along the way, two bad amendments got attached, one exempting flavored hookah and another strange one that said:

“Tobacco product” means a product that meets both of the following requirements: The product either does not have a patent issued prior to January 1, 2000, or is a menthol flavored product.”

The patent language has the kind of specificity that only a lobbyist with a lot of specialized knowledge could push.  That leaves the question open as to who had the muscle to get such an exemption.

While I don’t know the origin of the amendment, I do know that Philip Morris had developed a functioning e-cigarette by 1996 and patented the “capillary aerosol generator” technology.

Philip Morris also has several pre-2000 patents on the technology for its heated tobacco product IQOS, which is kind of like an e-cigarette that uses a solid tobacco plug instead of a liquid.

Could it be that they were willing to let legislation go through that would block flavors forits junior partner Juul (which was patented in 2013) while leaving the door open for PM to sell flavored e-cigs and IQOS?

Thanks to Arit Harvanko for help on checking patents.

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