Juul CEO Kevin Burns tells San Francisco lawmakers, ‘Yes, we’re staying’
San Francisco is at it again, this time considering new legislation that will ban the sales of vapor products within city limits while also attempting to kick Juul Labs out of its Bay Area offices at the same time. A rental property in the Dogpatch neighborhood of Pier 70 is the current home to Juul headquarters and its approximate 1,200 employees. While the new bill would not be able to toss the company out on its ear outright, it will make further expansion of its manufacturing facilities nearly impossible if not illegal.
The new statutory proposal follows almost precisely one year to the date of the city’s controversial passage of Prop E which essentially criminalizes the sales of numerous flavored tobacco and vapor products. Just last week, another neighboring city for the super-rich, Beverly Hills, passed a city ordinance banning the sales of vapor and tobacco products across the board with exceptions of fancy hotels and cigar bars. San Francisco appears to be piggybacking on this latest legislative effort while taking it a few, extra steps farther.
Vaping giant Juul digs in its proverbial heels
Mashable is reporting that city attorneys are apparently so desperate to rid San Francisco of the Juul offices that they’ve even written a nasty letter to their landlord. The letter allegedly asks, “why Juul holds a tobacco distributor license at that property when it has maintained that it 'does not engage in the sale of cigarettes or tobacco products' on the premises."
In response to the Mashable article, Juul representatives make the following point.
“This proposed legislation begs the question - why would the City be comfortable with combustible cigarettes being on shelves when we know they kill more than 480,000 Americans per year?”
Of course, all of this legal hullaballoo is being conducted by city officials in the name of a regional “epidemic” of teen vaping - a debatable label that was originally crafted and spouted by the former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Dr. Scott Gottlieb. But it appears as if Juul CEO Kevin Burns is not having it. According to the San Francisco Chronical, he’s fully prepared to stand his ground.
“Yes, we’re staying…San Francisco is our home. We want to be in San Francisco. We have 1,200 employees in San Francisco, a huge talent base in San Francisco. We want to be a resident, and I’m hopeful we’ll find a way to be a resident.”
The Juul company came under fire very early in the War on Vaping when accusations began surfacing that the world’s leading manufacturer of vapor technology was allegedly conducting suspicious marketing tactics targeting minors. The company has already shut down most of its social media accounts and has also recently halted shipments of flavored pods and pens to thousands of retailers across the nation.
CEO Burns has even offered to pay for and install electronic age verification technology is some 800 retail establishments in the Bay Area as an immediate response to the outrage over Prop E last year. Yet nothing Juul does seems to grant the vaping giant even the slightest reprieve from the increasingly antagonistic, anti-vaping politicians in San Francisco.
So, Juul - under the leadership of a probably rather-annoyed CEO Burns - is now showing signs of digging in their heels and fighting back. While the city of San Francisco may attempt to implement a city ordinance that prohibits “e-cigarettes that haven’t been reviewed by the FDA to confirm that they are appropriate for the protection of public health,” Juul executives hope to place a legislative initiative of their own on the November ballot. The initiative would theoretically place harsher restrictions and penalties on underage sales of Big Tobacco products while simultaneously preventing the outlawing of vaping products citywide.
Related Article: And so it begins: Vermont officially bans online vape sales
(Image courtesy of Juul/YouTube)