WASHINGTON – In response to growing government pressure and a public backlash over a Vaping epidemic, Juul Labs announced on Tuesday that it would stop selling retail-flavored e-cigarette trays and discontinue its social media promotions.
The San Francisco-based company, which accounts for more than 70 percent of the market share of e-cigarettes in the United States, is the most significant indication of a restriction by an industry that wanted to offer equipment to help smokers Nicotine Addiction to Non-Smokers
The Juul announcement effectively put forward the Food and Drug Administration's plan to unveil a series of measures to curb youth vaping. At the end of this week, the agency is expected to announce a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in convenience stores and gas stations and tighten the age verification requirements for e-cigarettes online.
In recent months, the FDA has carried out an increasingly aggressive campaign against the major producers of steam products that appeal to young people, especially Juul. The company's sleek device (nickname for e-cigarettes) is similar to a flash drive and comes with aromatics like crème and mango. This is causing public health officials to criticize the company and others because they are being marketed directly to teenagers who are most prone to nicotine dependence.
Originally, e-cigarettes were developed to help smokers quit by giving them the opportunity to satisfy their nicotine cravings without the tar and deadly carcinogens of a burning tobacco.
Juul, "said Kevin Burns, chief executive of Juul Labs, in a statement sent to reporters via email. "But intention is not enough. The numbers are important, and the numbers tell us that the use of e-cigarettes by minors is a problem.
Critics and public health advocates said the company has no choice, especially after the F.D.A. he seized documents related to marketing strategies from the company's headquarters last month, and while some states investigated whether their tactics aimed directly at minors.
Caroline Renzulli, a spokeswoman for the campaign for tobacco-free children, called Juul's announcement too late. "Juuls social media marketing has fueled its popularity with children," she said. "Now that 75 percent of the e-cigarette market has been won, Juul no longer needs to engage in social media marketing as his young customers do so for them."
Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General, reiterated this feeling. "Unfortunately, much of the damage has already been done," she said. "Our investigation of Juuls practices, including the question of whether they knowingly sold and marketed their products to young people, continues."
In a tweet on Tuesday afternoon, Scott Gottlieb, F.D.A. said, "Voluntary action is no substitute for regulatory action that #FDA will soon take. However, we would like to recognize Juul's actions today and urge all manufacturers to take immediate action to reverse these trends.
The F.D.A. Earlier this year, it was confirmed that it had been surprised by the burgeoning popularity of Damping among minors, and also began to target retail stores selling them. In September, Juul and manufacturers of some other flavored e-cigarettes and steam products had 60 days to file plans to prove that they could keep them away from minors. This deadline had passed last weekend.
According to preliminary unpublished government data, more than three million middle and high school students said they used e-cigarettes, with about one-third of respondents believing that flavors had a major impact on their choices Sir. Burns, the executive of Juul, said the company would not accept individual orders for mango, fruit, creme and cucumber juul pods as of Tuesday. According to some estimates, this accounts for approximately 45 percent of the retail sales of the $ 16 billion company.
In the announcement, the company said it would renew the sale of these products in retail stores investing in age verification technologies. A timetable for the resumption of these sales has not been announced.
Juul also said that it would improve his online age verification system to ensure buyers are 21 years or older. By the end of the year, Burns said, Juul will be adding a real-time photo request to match a buyer's face with an uploaded government-issued pass. The company will also try to prevent bulk deliveries to minors, by restricting customers to two devices and 15 pod packages per month and no more than 10 devices per year.
In addition, Juul said it would shut down its Facebook and Instagram accounts in the United States, which promoted the use of flavored pods. According to its release, the company said it would ask major social media companies, including Twitter and Snapchat, to help them "monitor" items that promote the use of e-cigarettes or cigarettes by underage users.
Dr. Gottlieb previously said officials had met with several e-cigarette and tobacco companies to talk about ways to reduce teenagers' steaming after they threatened to remove e-cigarettes if businesses did not sell teenagers could restrict.
Some companies have announced this Note the warnings from the FDA. In October Altria said it would discontinue most of its flavored e-cigarettes and completely stop selling some brands. For the first time, the tobacco giant also said he would endorse a bill that would extend the purchase of tobacco and steam products to 21 years – a proposal he had previously objected to.
R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco, also submitted plans to the F.D.A. on Friday, this supported the higher age limit.
Michael Shannon, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds said he also agreed not to market products through social media influencers, and also requires an age check to access the site where the Vuse e-cigarette is sold.
The tobacco company did not promise to bring Vuse with it in berry and other flavors from retail stores, but Mr. Shannon said the company would impose penalties on retailers selling tobacco products to teenagers. In addition, she plans to launch a mystery shopping program to verify compliance.
On Tuesday, CNBC's Fontem Ventures, a unit of the Imperial Tobacco Group, announced that it would increase the minimum age for buying pods on its website to 21 sold blue e-cigarettes, which are available in different fruity flavors.
Since the launch of Juul in 2015, Juul has become almost irresistible to teenagers who have been bored with the dangers of cigarette smoking since childhood. The name itself sounded like a mix of "jewel" and "cool".
In contrast to the chunky older vapes, the compact device was able to easily avoid detection by parents and teachers. Not only did it look like a flash drive, it could also be charged via the USB port of a computer. The flavors were tempting and sophisticated. And it offered teenagers the chance to rebel and hips without causing cancer.
And so Juul became a fast, furious blow among high school students. A January comprehensive report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on e-cigarettes found that 11 percent or nearly 1.7 million high school students had evaporated last month. According to preliminary, unpublished federal data, there are currently at least three million. Meanwhile, the students around Juul have built their own vocabulary – "Juuling" has become a verb.
Schools across the country were unaware. Juul's aerosol mist is almost odorless and dissolves within seconds. The students began to grow younger when the backs of the teachers were turned. They filled the school bathrooms for breaks. In everything the school officials knew, students only loaded flash drives on laptops.
Within 18 months of Juul's release, school officials began to confiscate them and informed parents. They had two main concerns: the increasing use of juul and other vapors for marijuana and the amount of nicotine in Juuls pods. Nicotine, the naturally occurring chemical in tobacco, is the addictive element that binds smokers to cigarettes and vapers to juul and other e-cigarettes. Teenagers whose brains are still developing need less nicotine than adults to become addicted.
Most worrying, however, was the National Academies' conclusion: Adolescents using the devices may have a higher cigarette smoking risk.
In his Tuesday announcement, Juul said the product is used by adults as an alternative to cigarette smoking and said it would continue posting testimonials on YouTube that adults had switched to Juul from traditional cigarettes.
Week the FDA is expected to propose, with few exceptions, a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes; a quest for a ban on menthol cigarettes, which can take years to obtain; and stricter controls on online sales to prohibit minors from accessing the products.