Juul to Halt Social Media and Stop Selling E-Cigarette Flavors

Juul to Halt Social Media and Stop Selling E-Cigarette Flavors
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After 2 months of pressure from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Juul Labs, the maker of the highly popular Juul e-cigarettes that resemble USB drives, says it will temporarily pull its flavored products from stores and remove its social media presence.

Juul will stop selling its mango, fruit, creme, and cucumber flavored nicotine pods from more than 90,000 retail stores, and require additional age verification at retailers that continue to sell the flavors online, the company said.

The e-cigarette maker will also delete its Facebook and Instagram accounts and halt promotional posts on Twitter.

Juul dominates the e-cigarette market, accounting for more than 70% of all sales. [2]

Juul CEO Kevin Burns said in a statement:

“Our intent was never to have youth use Juul products. But intent is not enough, the numbers are what matter, and the numbers tell us underage use of e-cigarette products is a problem. We must solve it.”

Read: Vaping may be Overriding Efforts to Get Kids to Quit Smoking

Caroline Renzulli, a spokeswoman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said Juul’s actions are too little, too late.

“Juul’s social media marketing fueled its popularity with kids. Now that it has captured 75% of the e-cigarette market, Juul no longer needs to do social media marketing because its young customers are doing it for them.”

In September, the FDA gave Juul and other e-cigarette companies 60 days to explain to the agency how they would prevent youth e-cigarette use, threatening consequences for companies that failed to comply.

Then, in October, the FDA seized thousands of documents from Juul headquarters as part of an investigation into whether the company was deliberately targeting minors in its sales and marketing practices.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said: [1]

“Teenagers are becoming regular users, and the proportion of regular users is increasing. We’re going to have to take action.”

On November 13, Gottlieb acknowledged Juul’s action but hinted that the FDA may take even further action.

“We’re deeply concerned about the epidemic of youth use of e-cigs. Voluntary action is no substitute for regulatory steps #FDA will soon take.”

The FDA may take the additional steps of banning flavored Juul products at convenience stores and gas stations, according to an agency official.

Tobacco, mint, and menthol flavored products would not be included in the ban. Juul said those products “mirror what is currently available for combustible cigarettes,” and it plans to increase a “secret shopper program” intended to nab retailers who continue to sell the products to youth.

Juul also indicated it would eventually bring its mango, fruit, creme and cucumber flavors back to stores that comply with stepped-up age verification procedures and limit product sales to prevent bulk purchases. The company didn’t provide a timeline for those actions.

Sources:

[1] USA Today

[2] The New York Times

Image credit: LILI SAMS/MASHABLE