Show of strength or sign of weakness? Juul CEO apologizes for teen vaping 'epidemic'

In a newly released documentary, Juul CEO Kevin Burns issues an apology to parents whose children are using the company’s products illegally.  The public plea for forgiveness appears just days after a U.S. federal judge ruled last Friday that manufacturers of vapor products must submit Pre-Market Tobacco Applications (PMTAs) within 10-montths or be forced to take their products off store shelves.  During the CNBC documentary entitled “Vaporized: America’s E-cigarette Addiction,” Burns makes the following statements. 

“First of all, I’d tell them that I’m sorry that their child’s using the product…It’s not intended for them. I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them…As a parent of a 16-year-old, I’m sorry for them, and I have empathy for them, in terms of what the challenges they’re going through.”

Burns joined Juul Labs just two short years ago in 2017 and insists that the original target market of the products was adult smokers trying to quit.  However, almost immediately upon his arrival, teen usage seems to have escalated considerably.  Coincidentally, so has Juul’s market share. Today, Juul Labs is the largest and most profitable vapor company in the United States, which has attracted a great deal of negative attention of federal lawmakers.   

Related Article:  Judge makes it official: Vape retailers have 10-months to submit PMTAs…or else

As the 2020 election season begins to heat up, many of these anti-vaping politicians are seeking massive financial contributions from their long-time allies in Big Tobacco to fund their political re-election efforts.  And in the current state of politics in America, any apology or admission of wrongdoing is often viewed as a significant political weakness. 

Will Burns’ attempt to apologize stop the bleeding for what is gearing up to be a devastating last stand by the U.S. vapor industry against government over-regulation?  Or will vaping hating politicians on Capitol Hill view the act of contrition as the perfect opportunity to go in for the final kill?  Unfortunately, the latter is far more likely than the former unless the American vaping community speaks up loudly and often.   

Related Article:  Public health expert calls ‘moral panic’ over vaping as ‘ridiculous’

(Image courtesy of YouTube)

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