Amid escalating concern over the health risks of e-cigarettes, Juul has announced that it will suspend all TV, print, and digital product advertising in the U.S.
The e-cigarette maker also said it would stop fighting the Trump administration on its plan to remove flavored e-cigarettes from the market until they have received approval from federal regulators. Juul said it would fully support and comply with any new federal policy related to vaping policy when effective.
The Trump Administration is currently finalizing a ban on all flavored e-cigarette products, including mint and menthol flavors.
Juul CEO resigns
Wednesday’s announcement also included news that Juul’s CEO Kevin Burns is stepping down immediately and will be replaced by K. C. Crosthwaite. Crosthwaite previously held the title of Chief Growth Officer at tobacco giant Altria, which owns a 35 percent stake in Juul.
“I have long believed in a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose alternative products like JUUL,” Crosthwaite said in the announcement. “That has been this company’s mission since it was founded, and it has taken great strides in that direction.”
“Unfortunately, today that future is at risk due to unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence in our industry,” he continued. “Against that backdrop, we must strive to work with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders, and earn the trust of the societies in which we operate. That includes inviting an open dialogue, listening to others and being responsive to their concerns.”
Talks of a merger of Philip Morris and Altria have been called off. Both companies said Wednesday that they will remain separate entities.
Health concerns under investigation
Last week, health officials said the number of illnesses associated with vaping has now climbed to 530. Since August, at least nine people in the U.S. have died following e-cigarette use. The CDC has not identified any one company or vaping product as responsible for all of the illnesses and fatalities.
Juul has been singled out for its role in the youth e-cigarette epidemic, as its flavored products have been shown to be particularly appealing to teens. Juul currently faces numerous lawsuits accusing it of deliberately targeting young consumers with its flavored nicotine products.
The FDA is considering banning all flavored e-cigarettes in an effort to curb use by teens while the health effects of the products are still being investigated.