The company will continue to sell mint, menthol, and tobacco flavored pods.
Between investigations by multiple state and federal agencies, numerous state vaping bans, a looming federal ban on all flavored vapor products, as well as continually being accused of creating a vaping epidemic, vaping industry giant Juul Labs has seen better days. Despite the constant regulatory scrutiny, Juul has remained a steward of the industry and pioneer in innovative self-regulation.
In an effort to appease regulators and anti-vaping activist organizations, the company has proactively gone and voluntarily halted the sale of many of its flavored vapor offerings, including creme, fruit, berry, and mango. For critics, the company has controversially decided to continue the sale of its mint, menthol, and tobacco flavored pods.
Critics, such as the organization Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, note that mint and menthol have been used for decades by tobacco companies to potentially entice teens to smoke. The company has defended the move, stating it is an attempt to help rebuild trust in the vapor industry that helps combat teenage vaping while providing an alternative to adult smokers.
Last year the company voluntarily pulled all flavor offerings from retail outlets, only offering them for sale through its age-restricted website. Outside the United States, the company continues to provide and market its entire line of flavored vapor products, including cucumber, berry, and vanilla.
In a statement, Juul Labs announced it would be halting sales of all flavored pods excluding mint, menthol, and tobacco. In addition, the company has agreed to cease lobbying efforts and has ended all digital, print, and television advertising.
The company stated the move was to help restore faith in the vaping industry by proactively working with regulators. “We must reset the vapor category by earning the trust of society and working cooperatively with regulators, policymakers, and stakeholders to combat underage use while providing an alternative to adult smokers,” said current Juul CEO and former Altria executive KC Crosthwaite.
Anti-vaping activists claim the move doesn’t go far enough, stating mint and menthol flavors have been used for decades by tobacco companies to lure potential teen smokers. “Juul’s decision to keep mint- and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes on the shelves is a page right out of the tobacco industry’s playbook.” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is currently spending $160 million on an initiative to help curb teenage vaping.
Industry analysts note that mint and menthol account for 85% of retail sales, Juul does not provide figures for its online sales. Outside the United States, the company continues to offer a full line of products for sale both online and in retail outlets.
Juul Labs has been a trailblazer in proactive self-regulation, helping to establish standards for the rest of the vaping industry. For example, the company voluntarily made a $30 million investment to help combat teenage vaping through a combination of parent/teen preventative education and independent research.
When Juul garnered criticism for using common advertising tactics used by alcohol companies, the company overhauled its entire approach to social media. The company’s new social media policy focused on sharing testimonials from adult smokers about how using the Juul finally allowed them to cease smoking.
Juul has pulled its flavored product offerings ahead of looming state and federal bans on flavored vapor products. Research indicates these bans may have serious negative public health ramifications, such as a study from Yale University that found former smokers who can’t access flavored vapor products may end up taking up smoking again.
While a so-called teenage vaping epidemic is often cited as the reason for flavor bans, current research indicates these claims may actually be dramatically overblown. In a review, Action on Smoking and Health found as little as 0.1% to 0.5% of teens who even try vaping actually end up it doing habitually.
Juul Labs has been working closely with regulators to ensure adult smokers have safe access to a proven smoking cessation tool while also preventing teens from vaping. The company is currently in the process of conducting clinical trials on its product line to submit for review to the FDA, which has given vapor product manufacturers until May 2020 to submit for review products they wish to remain on the market.
Flavor bans have been shown to have major negative public health ramifications, as restricting adult, smokers access to a proven effective smoking cessation tool may lead them to continue smoking and only exacerbates the smoking epidemic. In addition, these bans have also been shown to have negative economic impacts, as flavored vapor products make up 90-95% of sales for retailers, and these bans significantly impact their bottom line.
As Juul Labs has voluntarily agreed to stop lobbying lawmakers, it is imperative for the rest of the vaping industry to stand together to push back against overreaching regulations such as flavor bans. Furthermore, members of the vaping community must remain civically engaged in helping convince lawmakers of the promise that vaping holds. Vapers sharing stories about how it has impacted their lives and allowed them to quit using hashtags such as “#IVapeIVote” are a great way to help shed some positive light on vaping as a whole.
How do you feel about Juul’s decision to stop offering most of its flavored pods? Have you personally been impacted by a flavor ban? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
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