In late September, Juul Labs, which manufactures flavored e-cigarettes, announced it would suspend all broadcast, print, and digital product advertising in the United States, and that its CEO Ken Burns would step down. The statement comes as regulators assess multiple cases of what appears to be a vaping-related lung disease.
The FDA recently found Juul’s advertising campaign, which touted its vaping products as safer alternatives to cigarettes, to be illegal because of the lack of supportive scientific evidence. On September 9, the FDA issued a warning letter to Juul stating that it needs to correct its marketing or risk being fined or having its vaping products seized.
In its September statement, Juul also said it would not push back on a Trump administration plan to pull fruit-flavored vaping products from the market until the controversial products win approval from FDA regulators, in an attempt to make the products less available to young consumers.
In the statement, Juul officials said the company will be “refraining from lobbying the administration on its draft guidance” that proposes banning fruit-flavored vaping products, unless approved by the FDA.
Apology for Teen Addiction
On July 15, Juul Labs CEO Kevin Burns issued an apology to parents of children who have become addicted to vaping products made by the company. Aired on a CNBC documentary, “Vaporized: America’s E-cigarette Addiction,” Burns’ apology was followed by the explanation that vaping products were never meant for teens. “First of all, I’d tell [parents] that I’m sorry that their child’s using the product,” said Burns. “It’s not intended for them. I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them.”
According to the company, Juul’s vaping products are intended for adults who are trying to quit smoking. Last year, however, approximately three million high school students in the U.S. used these products. Whether the dramatic rise in teen vaping is an unintended consequence of introducing this new type of product to the market or a consequence that, at least, could have been predicted, given an advertising campaign that uses social media platforms popular among teens, the FDA has called it an epidemic.