JUUL is removing four of its popular non-tobacco flavored pods from the retail market immediately — including from vape shops. The flavors being restricted are creme, cucumber, fruit, and mango. The company will also shut down its own Instagram and Facebook accounts.
The announced actions are parts of a response to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s warning to JUUL and the four tobacco companies that also make vapor products to present plans to eliminate underage use of their products. Gottlieb gave the companies 60 days to take action before the FDA steps in with a regulatory response. That period ends today.
After today, JUUL will no longer fulfill orders from its 90,000 retailers for flavors other than tobacco, menthol, and mint. JUUL says it believes flavors are a crucial part of its appeal for adult smokers, but will make its most popular flavors (except mint) the most difficult to obtain.
Even Commissioner Gottlieb admits that underage sales in vape shops are not a major problem. But JUUL will eliminate all retail sales of its four non-tobacco/non-menthol/mint flavors until it can be assured that the stores they’re sold in follow strict rules.
JUUL’s future requirements for retailers that sell its flavored products include scanning drivers licenses, and denying sales to adults under 21, even in states that don’t make those sales illegal.
JUUL’s “action plan” goes above and beyond what Gottlieb has publicly called for, adding layers of high-tech age verification to its sales process, even on its own already-secure website. The San Francisco-based company says it will soon begin to use two-factor authentication for online sales, as well as a “real-time photo requirement.”
Tricky teenagers will always find ways to buy adult products. But many older adults — especially poor ones — won’t jump through JUUL’s high-tech hoops to try their best products. However, buying a pack of Marlboros will remain as easy as it ever was. JUUL’s campaign to combat Gottlieb’s phantom epidemic might win approval from the FDA, but it will hurt the people who need JUUL the most.
JUUL Labs released this statement from CEO Kevin Burns:
“JUUL Labs is committed to improving the lives of the world’s one billion adult smokers, with the ultimate goal of eliminating cigarettes. While we have been working to solve that problem, another unintended and serious problem has developed – underage use of e-cigarettes, including JUUL.
“We don’t want anyone who doesn’t smoke, or already use nicotine, to use JUUL products. We certainly don’t want youth using the product. It is bad for public health, and it is bad for our mission. JUUL Labs and FDA share a common goal – preventing youth from initiating on nicotine. To paraphrase Commissioner Gottlieb, we want to be the off-ramp for adult smokers to switch from cigarettes, not an on-ramp for America’s youth to initiate on nicotine. We won’t be successful in our mission to serve adult smokers if we don’t narrow the on-ramp.
“Our intent was never to have youth use JUUL products. But intent is not enough, the numbers are what matter, and the numbers tell us underage use of e-cigarette products is a problem. We must solve it.
“For us to successfully fulfill our mission of helping adult smokers, we must be trusted – and we must earn that trust. That starts with action, not words.”