JUUL joins Altria by stopping sales of fruity vapes in brick-and-mortar venues

Following the lead of Big Tobacco’s Altria Group, the Juul organization is said to be planning to stop the sales of flavored vapes in conventional brick-and-mortar retail outlets.  The action likely comes in response to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) many allegations of “epidemic” levels of teenage e-cig use across the nation.  A CNBC report sites anonymous sources from within the Juul organization who claim that the “proposal is not yet public.” 

If the report is true, then Juul will be pulling fruity flavors like cucumber, mango, and crème-flavored vapes from store shelves in the very near future, although all flavors will still be available for purchase through the company website.  Vape Shops will also be excluded from the proposed ban.  No definite date is known at this time regarding when the action will take place.

Vaping industry braces for even stricter FDA regulations

The Juul Company may be pulling their flavored vapes from store shelves not as an admission of guilt regarding the FDA’s many allegations of kid-friendly marketing practices but as a possible way to mitigate the potential damage to its company brand amid rumors of stricter regulations heading down the legislative pike perhaps as early as next week.

Related Article:   Is FDA planning convenience store vape ban for next week?

Just days ago on November 9, the Washington Post (WP) reported that the FDA is getting ready to implement new regulations any day now that would prohibit the sales of flavored vapes in convenience store and gas stations.  The WP report cites unnamed sources just like the CNBC report, but if this is true, then Juul may have no choice in the matter anyway.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is reporting a potential FDA flavor ban that only targets the sales of pod-style flavored vapes like those offered by Juul specifically.  If this is true, then perhaps FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is more concerned with juuling rather than with vaping, in general.

 “To keep the products out of teens’ and children’s hands, the FDA plans to restrict the sale of pod-style, flavored e-cigarettes such as Juul Labs’ to retail outlets that either bar minors from entry or have a separate section that children can’t enter, said a senior agency official. That will effectively stop their sale in most convenience stores and gas stations.
E-cigarettes in menthol, mint and tobacco flavors will remain on store shelves for now. FDA officials decided not to restrict those because they didn’t want to create a situation in which cigarettes were more attractive to smokers who prefer menthol, senior agency officials said.”

Related Article:   FDA raids Juul offices; seizes thousands of documents on kid-friendly marketing

The WSJ also quotes an analyst from Wells Fargo who claims that Juul rakes in about 75% of the $2.5 billion annual sales of e-cigarettes in the United States.  Juul’s unique design is popular among teens because it looks very might like a conventional USB flash drive, which makes them easier to hide from parents.  While FDA Chief Gottlieb has made multiple public statements in recent months about an alleged epidemic rise in teen vaping, he has also simultaneously attempted to endorse adult vaping as a safe and effective tobacco harm reduction tool. 

Is the FDA’s targeting of Juul products a form of political compromise? Or are even harsher FDA vape restrictions on vaping soon to follow?

In the past few months, Gottlieb has threatened to ban the sales of all flavored vapes regardless of the manufacturer. He has even gone so far as to threaten a total ban on online sales of all vaping products including mods, pens, coils, tanks, and everything in between.

Is the ban on pod-style vapes only the first step?  The answer may fall to the Millennials.  If teen vaping does not stop – and fast - then millions of adult vapers who are largely using these products to quit smoking may end up paying the real price, the ultimate price, in the end.

Related Article:   Squawk Box Alert: Is Gottlieb implementing a vaping flavor ban in 60 days?

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