can you now Buying a Juul e-cigarette? It depends on what day of the week it is.
Earlier this week, the FDA rejected marketing authorization for Juul, which first began selling its e-cigarettes in 2015 (though it has operated under various company names since 2007). The FDA said the rejection was due to Juul’s “failure to provide sufficient toxicological data to demonstrate that the product is safe,” ArsTechnica report, so the agency was unable to complete its toxicology assessment. The FDA specifically cited “potentially harmful chemicals leached from the company’s proprietary e-liquid pods” as a problem.
However, Juul fought back and gained a temporary victory. In court documents filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C. Circuit, Juul called the FDA’s ban “arbitrary and capricious” and suggested the agency bowed to congressional pressure. A federal appeals court then decided to block the FDA’s order until it could hear more arguments on the issue.
The FDA’s denial and subsequent stay are just the latest in a years-long battle between the regulator and Juul. Back in 2018, the FDA launched an investigation into the sale of Juul products to underage consumers, asking the company to provide marketing materials and to submit a plan to block sales to teens. The following year, the FDA issued a warning letter to Juul for its claims that e-cigarettes were less harmful than traditional cigarettes. At some point, fruit-flavored e-cigarette pods were banned in the United States.
The latest ban, if in effect, would apply to the Juul device itself, the glossy vape pen and four specific liquid cartridges, all of which are tobacco- or menthol-flavored — those that mimic traditional flavors of cigarettes. Just a few days ago, the agency said it would also limit the amount of nicotine allowed in real cigarettes sold in the United States.
Here’s some more news.
Instagram’s Age Crackdown
On Thursday, Instagram announced that it will roll out new tools on the platform for verifying the age of users. When users change their date of birth to be over or under 18, Instagram will now ask them to verify the change. That means either uploading an ID and having a mutual friend vouch for you, or uploading a selfie video. The latter option is offered through a partnership with digital recognition company Yoti, which then uses its facial recognition technology to scan video selfies to estimate a person’s age.
Instagram says its goal is to customize the app differently for teens and adults and make sure those experiences are different. Despite these noble intentions, the move still makes privacy and artificial intelligence experts nervous. After all, Instagram’s parent company, Meta, has a long history of data sharing and privacy breaches.
Currently, Instagram is only testing age verification requirements for US users.
Microsoft drops controversial sentiment-detecting AI
Tuesday, New York Times Microsoft will remove the ability to use facial recognition software to track physical attributes and even emotions of people in images from its Azure cloud computing platform, the report said. This is a controversial feature that has been criticized for being potentially biased and inaccurate.
Microsoft is no stranger to questionable ethical situations. In 2018, it came under fire for using the Azure platform to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program ICE. But now, Microsoft seems eager to shake off the criticism. The move to dominate Azure is part of Microsoft’s newly released standards for responsible artificial intelligence, which it says will guide how companies use artificial intelligence in their products.