Vaping Giant Juul Labs To Suspend Most Retail Sales

Irving Hamilton
November 14, 2018

Juul said it is removing mango, fruit, creme, and cucumber "pods" from shelves but not flavors that mimic those found in combustible cigarettes.

Juul also announced that it was going dark on social media, shutting down its Facebook and Instagram accounts while continuing to monitor third-party accounts for "inappropriate material". Juul is banning sales to anyone under 21, even in states where the legal age is lower.

The company had previously come under fire for targeting teens on social media.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Twitter that "voluntary action is no substitute for regulatory steps FDA will soon take", but he acknowledged Juul's actions and urged other e-cigarette makers to take steps to reduce use by minors. It's expressed concerns that Juul was luring in underage customers.

The move comes in the wake of a Stanford University School of Medicine study that showed that teens and young adults love Juul and "are failing to recognize the product's addictive potential, despite using it more often than their peers who smoke conventional cigarettes".

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Facing mounting government pressure and a public backlash over the epidemic of teenage vaping, Juul Labs announced on Tuesday that it would stop selling most of its flavored e-cigarette pods in retail stores and would discontinue its social media promotions. Tobacco- and menthol-flavored Juuls will still be available in retail stores.

The flavours would continue to be available directly from Juul online, the statement said, where "age-verification measures" are in place. Earlier this year, it began featuring only former cigarette smokers in its ads to highlight smoking cessation benefits. The company's discrete design and high nicotine content have made Juul the top-selling e-cigarette in the U.S. This summer, Juul had captured 68 percent of the U.S. e-cigarette market, according to Nielsen data compiled in a Juul investor presentation viewed by Bloomberg.

The company also said it'll only start accepting orders again for mango, cucumber, fruit and creme pods from retail locations that can legally sell flavors, and that comply with a series of new guidelines, such as electronically scanning IDs for flavored pod purchases and limiting the quantity of pod sales to an individual.

James Campbell, a spokesman for the Imperial Brands Plc unit that makes blu e-cigarettes, said the company told the FDA it plans to introduce a technology early next year that would lock devices in an effort to prevent underage use.

The new policy applies to flavored cartridge-style vaping products like Juul that have become popular among youths, not the open tank-style systems sold in vape shops and mostly used by adults, FDA officials said.

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