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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

Big Tech marshals a right-leaning army of allies for antitrust fight

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As tech's giants prepare to face off with antitrust enforcers this summer, they will draw support from an array of predominantly right-leaning defenders ranging from influential former government officials to well-connected think tanks.

The big picture: The Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission and the states have multiple investigations of monopolistic behavior underway targeting Facebook and Google, with other giants like Amazon and Apple also facing rising scrutiny. Many observers expect a lawsuit against Google to land this summer.

John Roberts' long game

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is not the revolutionary that conservative activists want him to be.

He moves slower than they want, sides with liberals more than they want, and trims his sails in ways they find maddening. But he is still deeply and unmistakably conservative, pulling the law to the right — at his own pace and in his own image.

2 hours ago - Health

The U.S.' new default coronavirus strategy: herd immunity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

By letting the coronavirus surge through the population with only minimal social distancing measures in place, the U.S. has accidentally become the world’s largest experiment in herd immunity.

Why it matters: Letting the virus spread while minimizing human loss is doable, in theory. But it requires very strict protections for vulnerable people, almost none of which the U.S. has established.