Juul Asks Israel's Top Court to Block Ban on E-cigarettes

Petition comes two days after Netanyahu, acting in his capacity as health minister, signed an order putting the ban into effect after 15 days, saying such e-cigarettes posed 'a grave risk to public health'

Juul e-cigarettes for sale in Tel Aviv, August 2018.
Ofer Vaknin

Juul asked the High Court of Justice on Thursday to block the Health Ministry from banning the import and sale of e-cigarettes like Juul’s that contain more than 20 milligrams of nicotine unless officials can justify their decision.

The petition came just two days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, acting in his capacity as health minister, signed an order putting the ban into effect after 15 days, saying such e-cigarettes posed “a grave risk to public health.”

Juul e-cigarettes contain 59 milligrams of nicotine per millimeter of liquid, way above the range of six to 30 for other e-cigarettes. But the company responds that the nicotine levels in its product are no higher than for ordinary cigarettes and are less damaging to health.

In its petition, the American company asserted that the ministry had been “working in the dark, according to hidden agendas, while strengthening the position of tobacco companies versus the alternative offered by the petitioners.” It said the ban caused a “fatal financial blow” to the company.

Until now, Israel had been the only other country outside the United States and Britain where Juul could freely market its trendy e-cigarette, which looks like a USB and comes in flavors like mango and crème brulee. Britain, however, limits the nicotine content to 20 milligrams.

The company told the court that the hearings which led up to the ban “violated all the rules and obligations imposed on a governmental authority,” and that ministry officials had already made up their minds before the hearings were called.

“This order is invalid by any administrative standard as it is aimed solely at the petitioner and their product. It leaves the door wide open for competitors to sell products similar to those of the petitioner and to do whatever they like,” Juul said.