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Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

Altria's $12.8 billion investment for a 35% stake in Juul is at risk of becoming one of the worst corporate investments of all time.

Driving the news: So far, vaping is suspected or confirmed as the cause of death for 8 people and 530 cases of pulmonary illness across 38 states, the CDC said, with a federal official saying that a criminal probe has begun.

Sens. Mitt Romney and Jeff Merkley proposed a bill late Thursday that would:

  • Ban e-cigarette flavors other than tobacco.
  • Create new design standards for e-cigarettes.
  • Apply existing tobacco taxes to e-cigarettes.
  • Urge the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee a campaign about the health risks of e-cigarettes.
  • Make it more difficult to refill vape cartridges with home-made tobacco pods.

"With nearly a quarter of high school students vaping regularly, we must take decisive action to prevent a new generation from addiction and serious health risks," Romney said.

Between the lines: "Sometimes it's darkest before the light, but right now it looks like Altria got smoked," Axios' Dan Primack writes.

The big picture: Juul keeps getting hit left and right — particularly after the recent spate of vaping-related lung diseases. The company is also facing a possible congressional subpoena after failing to provide documents in July.

  • Last week, President Trump proposed banning all flavored vaping pods from the U.S. market, including mint and menthol.
  • Earlier this week, Juul products disappeared from Chinese e-commerce sites JD.com and Alibaba's Tmall.com, without explanation.
  • India banned e-cigarettes entirely.

In the market: Altria's stock has been falling for much of this year and has been on a clear downward path over the past 6 months.

  • The recent blowback against e-cigarettes has sent shares down another 8% in just the past week.

Go deeper: The global anti-vaping tipping point

Go deeper

Ted Cruz defends GOP's expected return to prioritizing national debt

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.

Federal judge blocks DOJ from defending Trump in Carroll rape defamation case

E. Jean Carroll in Warwick, New York. Photo: Eva Deitch for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the Justice Department's attempted intervention on behalf of President Trump in writer E. Jean Carroll's defamation lawsuit against him, after she accused him of raping her in a dressing room in the mid-1990s.

Catch up quick: The agency argued that Trump was "acting within the scope of his office" as president when he said in 2019 that Carroll was "lying" about her claim.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse — The swing states where the pandemic is raging.
  2. Health: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Where stimulus is needed most.
  4. Education: The dangerous instability of school re-openings.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Unrest in Italy as restrictions grow across Europe.
  7. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine.

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