JUUL still plans to bring new assembly plant to Lexington County

This comes despite the company's CEO stepping down and illnesses related to vaping and e-cigarettes

LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WOLO) –As health concerns rise over vape related illnesses, one e cigarette corporation says it still has plans on setting up shop here in the Midlands.

A spokesperson with Juul says the company still plans on opening a manufacturing facility in Lexington County.

The company says its $125 million investment in the new facility should bring 500 new jobs to the area.

Even though Juul still plans on operating in Lexington County, some state lawmakers say it fuels fire to the epidemic, while others say it won’t play a role in getting people hooked on their products.

“Ethics should take precedent over jobs and economic development. This is a company, this is an industry that I think we have to be very, very careful about,” said Sen. Darrell Jackson (D-Richland County).

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) says there are ten confirmed or probable cases of severe pulmonary illness associated with e-cigarette use.

Meanwhile, Rep. Chip Huggins (R-Lexington County) acknowledges the health concerns surrounding the products, but says the jobs from the plant should help the county.

“This is a manufacturing facility. They’re not going to be giving out samples or anything like that. It puts people to work, gets folks on the payroll and certainly paying their taxes, so that’s a help to the county on any occasion,” Rep. Huggins said.

Sen. Jackson says he plans on filing a bill in the Senate that would ban the sale of flavored nicotine products in the state. This is similar to a bill that Rep. Beth Bernstein (D-Richland County) plans on proposing in the House.

In South Carolina, people under the age of 18 are not able to purchase nicotine products and can only enter vape shops with an adult. The state legislature also passed a law last year that banned the use of vape pens and e-cigarettes on school property.

Sen. Jackson is also calling for Governor Henry McMaster (R-South Carolina) to declare a public health emergency and temporarily halt the sale of vape products for four months, a move similar to one Gov. Charlie Baker (R-Massachusetts) made earlier this week.

Gov. McMaster says he’s following the number of illnesses from vaping and e-cigarettes closely. He also says companies like Juul are not above the law if they set up shop in his state.

“We want businesses to come and bring good jobs for our people, and we ask that they all obey the law and we will see to it that they do,” Gov. McMaster said.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says more than one in four high school students use e-cigarettes.

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