“The marketing denial order would follow a nearly two-year review of data presented by the vaping company, which sought authorization for its tobacco- and menthol-flavored products to stay on the U.S. market,” the outlet reported, noting that the agency’s decision could come as soon as Wednesday.
Juul — which markets itself as an alternative to cigarettes for adult smokers — sells nicotine capsules smoked through a small device. Sales surged nearly 800% between 2017 and 2018, causing Juul to gain a 68% market share in the e-cigarette category.
The FDA’s move to ban Juul products comes months after President Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services planned to implement a $30 million grant program which allegedly would have involved handing out crack pipes to drug addicts as part of safe smoking kits, according to a report from Washington Free Beacon reporter Patrick Hauf.
The Biden administration denied the plans ever involved crack pipes and fact checkers critiqued the report.
Later, Hauf obtained safe smoking kits from five different cities across the United States which contained crack pipes. He reported that the kits were likely similar to the ones that would be eligible to be covered under the HHS grant. It was not known if these kits were purchased with money from the HHS grant.
Over the past four years, the FDA has been seeking ways to regulate e-cigarettes — especially for young consumers.
“[We] see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion, and we must adjust certain aspects of our comprehensive strategy to stem this clear and present danger,” then FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in 2018. “While we remain committed to advancing policies that promote the potential of e-cigarettes to help adult smokers move away from combustible cigarettes, that work can’t come at the expense of kids. We cannot allow a whole new generation to become addicted to nicotine.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, Juul “limited its marketing” and “stopped selling sweet and fruity flavors” in 2019, after which the company’s sales slowed.
Today, Juul denies selling to young users. “Juul Labs exists for one clear purpose: to provide adult smokers worldwide an alternative to combustible cigarettes,” according to a statement from Juul Labs CEO K.C. Crosthwaithe featured prominently on the firm’s website. “We do not want any non-nicotine users, especially those underage, to try our products, as they exist only to transition adult smokers away from combustible cigarettes.”
Nevertheless, Juul has faced a deluge of lawsuits from state governments. The state of North Carolina filed suit against the company in 2019 for “designing, marketing, and selling its e-cigarettes to attract young people and for misrepresenting the potency and danger of nicotine in its products,” according to a June 28 statement from the office of Attorney General Josh Stein. Juul agreed to pay $40 million to the state and reform its practices to ensure that no one under 21 purchases the product.
“This win will go a long way in keeping Juul products out of kids’ hands, keeping its chemical vapor out of their lungs, and keeping its nicotine from poisoning and addicting their brains,” Stein said. “We’re not done — we still have to turn the tide on a teen vaping epidemic that was borne of Juul’s greed.”
A complaint filed by the commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2020 argued that the company “engaged in unfair and deceptive acts and practices” by “selling nicotine products to children, adolescents, and other consumers younger than the minimum legal sales age.”
Meanwhile, the state of California enacted a law that imposed penalties on retailers who sold flavored tobacco products — including flavored vape juice and menthol cigarettes — with $250 fines per violation. Products such as hookah, pipe tobacco, and some cigars were exempt. California voters will decide on whether to keep the law in a referendum this November, while tobacco companies such as Philip Morris USA are behind efforts to oppose the law.