Johnson & Johnson allegedly targeted babies and women with their marketing strategies for the company’s asbestos-contaminated Baby Powder.

Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder was a staple in households around the world for over 100 years. However, the iconic product was pulled from North American shelves in 2020 due to the rise in asbestos cancer claims directed at Johnson & Johnson’s talc. Many of the talc and asbestos cancer claims Johnson & Johnson has faced involve claims of mesothelioma, lung cancer and ovarian cancer. These are the types of cancer caused by using talcum powders.

Today, the pharmaceutical giant produces its baby powder formula with cornstarch as the key ingredient, instead of talc. 

Why is talc no longer used? Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder product was found to be contained with asbestos, as the two minerals – talc and asbestos – are often found near each other when mined. Both minerals are fragile and dusty, causing mineral particles to mix in the earth. It’s nearly impossible to identify contaminated talc by just looking at it, so it was very difficult to determine which talc was safe. 

Consumers often wonder if talc is safe because of all the disputes surrounding the topic. Although talc is “generally recognized as safe,” there is a potential for the mineral to blend in with asbestos fibers. It’s safer to avoid talc and stay safe from asbestos exposure.

For Johnson & Johnson, this mix up caused the corporation years of public controversy and legal troubles. 

J&J Baby Powder was used worldwide for over a century, meaning various groups of people used the baby powder throughout its shelf life, leading to a lawsuit against Walmart for continuing to sell the cancer-causing product. Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder was used by babies, women and even men. Consumers used the product for various purposes but most applied it directly to the skin to absorb moisture. While this practice kept skin healthy, it potentially led to asbestos exposure. 

Some even claim that Johnson & Johnson may have targeted certain groups with its marketing strategies. 

 

Johnson & Johnson Produced a Dangerous Product for Babies 

The marketing message of the original Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder reads: “Our baby powder keeps skin comfortable, dry & feeling soft. With a clean, classic scent, this baby powder formula glides over your baby’s skin and leaves it feeling delicately soft and dry while providing soothing comfort.”

Johnson & Johnson produced, distributed, and strategically marketed a dangerous product for babies. Although the massive health corporation may not have known about the potential contamination or health risks when the product first hit the market, one would hope that a baby product would be analyzed to the point where not a single ingredient is unidentifiable. This was not the case for Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder. 

The first – and certainly not the last – sign of tainted talc in Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder dates back to the 1950s. The company’s consulting lab tested samples of its talc and detected traces of asbestos. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states no amount of exposure to asbestos is deemed safe for anyone, especially babies. 

Johnson & Johnson continued normal production of its talcum baby powder, marketing the product to mothers to purchase for and use on their children’s skin. 

 

General Consumers of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder

Johnson & Johnson initially marketed Baby Powder as a hygienic product for babies. Once the product became more well-known, consumers began using it for many purposes other than preventing diaper rash, leading consumers to wonder what is baby powder used for? 

Women began exploring the different uses of baby powder and incorporating it into their everyday routines. 

Baby Powder could be used as dry shampoo to absorb oils and grease produced in unwashed hair, making your hair appear freshly clean. It could also be used to prime eyelashes before applying mascara, helping eyelashes to appear fuller. Beauty salons also kept Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder in their inventory to ease pain during waxing for their clients. 

Women were not the only people exploring the uses of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder. Many of the later-discovered beneficial uses of baby powder could be for women, men, children and even homecare.

Because J&J Baby Powder was an oil-absorbing and odor-eliminating product, some consumers chose to use the talcum powder as a deodorant alternative, to soothe dry or chafing skin, or even cool the skin to bring relief after shaving. Others used the baby powder as a household maintenance product to eliminate squeaky floors, musty closets and drawers, shoe odor, grease stains and much more. It’s even suggested to use Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder to freshen up the family dog. 

J&J did not initially market the powder as a universal product, but it was advertised as a baby-safe product, which led the general public to believe Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder was safe for everyone and everything.

Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder was once thought to be a safe and universal product until a slew of cancer claims and allegations came forward of J&J targeting black women with its marketing strategies.

 

Johnson & Johnson Marketed Cancer-Causing Baby Powder to Women of Color

In July of 2021, the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson claiming the corporation strategically marketed their cancer-causing baby powder to black women despite confirmed links to cancer.  

The complaint states that Johnson & Johnson’s internal documents show the targeting strategies the company used in its advertisements for the powder. The group argues that J&J focused on black women because the corporation knew black women used J&J talcum powder products more often than any other demographic. 

Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder was the number one talcum powder product of the century, leading to countless people potentially exposed to asbestos. If you or someone you know may have been exposed to asbestos or has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our registered nurse, Karen Ritter, at karen@mesotheliomaguide.com or an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to get the help you deserve.

 

 

    Sources & Author

    Baby Powder. Johnson’s Baby. Retrieved from: https://www.johnsonsbaby.com/baby-products/johnsons-baby-powder. Accessed: 07/20/22.

    Johnson & Johnson Targeted Black Women With Products Linked to Cancer, Lawsuit Says. npr. Retrieved from: https://www.npr.org/2021/07/29/1022355144/johnson-johnson-targeted-black-women-powder-products-cancer-lawsuit. Accessed: 07/20/22.

    Attorneys Ben Crump and Paul Napoli File Suit Against Johnson & Johnson on Behalf of National Council of Negro Women. Ben Crump Trial Lawyer For Justice. Retrieved from: https://ncnw.org/files/Johnson-Johnson-press-release.pdf. Accessed: 07/20/22. 

    National Council of Negro Women v. Johnson & Johnson, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies. Johnson-Johnson-complaint. Retrieved from: https://ncnw.org/files/Johnson-Johnson-complaint.pdf Accessed: 07/25/22.

Camryn Keeble image

About the Writer, Camryn Keeble

Camryn Keeble is a content writer and community outreach member for Mesothelioma Guide. She creates mesothelioma-related content for the Mesothelioma Guide website. Camryn's goal is to decipher advanced information regarding mesothelioma into informative, simplified content to educate those affected by mesothelioma. She also works diligently to raise awareness of mesothelioma and its effects on patients and their loved ones by participating in daily outreach.

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    Sources & Author

Picture of Camryn Keeble

About the Writer, Camryn Keeble

Camryn Keeble is a content writer and community outreach member for Mesothelioma Guide. She creates mesothelioma-related content for the Mesothelioma Guide website. Camryn's goal is to decipher advanced information regarding mesothelioma into informative, simplified content to educate those affected by mesothelioma. She also works diligently to raise awareness of mesothelioma and its effects on patients and their loved ones by participating in daily outreach.