Juul’s CEO Kevin Burns has resigned amid safety concerns over the e-cigarettes.
He will be replaced by former Altria executive K.C. Crosthwaite, Juul announced Wednesday.
Altria invested $12.8billion for a 35 per cent stake in Juul late last year and Crosthwaite will continue ‘a broad review of the company’s practices and policies to ensure alignment with its aim of responsible leadership within the industry’, Juul said in a statement.
Also on Wednesday, Altria and Philip Morris announced that they are calling off merger talks.
The growing backlash against Juul and companies that produce vaping products has reached a global scale with China being the latest country to announce plans to join governments that are imposing controls on tobacco liquid and additives for e-cigarettes amid rising concerns about deaths and illnesses blamed on vaping.
Earlier this month, India banned sales of e-cigarettes and regulators in the US have imposed controls. New York and Michigan were the first states to ban flavored e-cigarettes.
Massachusetts took an even bigger step with the announcement of a four-month temporary ban on the sale of all e-cigarettes in the state.
Last month Burns admitted that the nearly 200 lung illnesses linked to vaping reported in the US were ‘worrisome’ in a CBS This Morning interview but said he does not yet believe Juul’s products are to blame.
Juul’s CEO Kevin Burns (left) has resigned amid safety concerns over the e-cigarettes. He will be replaced by former Altria executive K.C. Crosthwaite (right), Juul announced Wednesday
Juul currently faces about 30 lawsuits alleging it illegally marketed products to children and failed to issue warnings to consumers about their dangers
He defended his product and said Juul is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is investigating the spate of severe lung illnesses.
‘If there was any indication that there was an adverse health condition related to our product, I think we would take swift action,’ Burns said – but claimed the ‘facts’ don’t suggest that, despite claims made by many vaping patients that they used Juul.
The series of illnesses reported in 30 states is ‘worrisome for the category [of e-cigarettes] and worrisome for us, if we’re contributing it,’ Burns told CBS’s Tony Dokoupil.
Juul had captured 70 per cent of the US e-cigarette market by October 2018, according to Nielson.
Over the last couple of years the company has been slammed for marketing its products to youth and teenagers, triggering raids of its headquarters, warning letters, and forcing Juul’s hand to remove sweet-flavored e-liquids from stores.
Global backlash on e-cigarettes amid health concerns
On Tuesday, China announced plans to join governments that are imposing controls on tobacco liquid and additives for e-cigarettes amid rising concern about deaths and illnesses blamed on vaping.
Rules due out as early as next month also will cover e-cigarette devices and packaging, the China News Service said, citing unidentified sources at the State Tobacco Monopoly.
India banned sales of e-cigarettes this month and regulators in the US and other countries are imposing controls following a surge in deaths and illnesses blamed on vaping.
China is the most populous global tobacco market, with an estimated 350 million smokers. India is No. 2.
Companies in the Chinese e-cigarette industry invested at least $140million in 2018 year and 35 deals were made in the first half of this year.
Despite Burns’ previous comments defending his product, in a statement on Wednesday he said: ‘Working at JUUL Labs has been an honor and I still believe the company’s mission of eliminating combustible cigarettes is vitally important.
‘I am very proud of my team’s efforts to lead the industry toward much needed category-wide action to tackle underage usage of these products, which are intended for adult smokers only.
‘Since joining JUUL Labs, I have worked non-stop, helping turn a small firm into a worldwide business, so a few weeks ago I decided that now was the right time for me to step down. I am grateful to be able to confidently hand the reins to someone with K.C.’s skill set, which is well-suited to the next phase of the company’s journey,’ he added.
In Wednesday’s statement, the company announced that it will also be shutting down broadcast, print and digital advertising.
It will also end its lobbying efforts on behalf of the e-cigarette in Washington as safety concerns intensify.
Last month Burns (pictured) admitted that the nearly 200 lung illnesses linked to vaping reported in the US were ‘worrisome’ in a CBS This Morning interview but said he does not yet believe Juul’s products are to blame
He defended his product (file image) at the time and said Juul is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is investigating the spate of severe lung illnesses
The FDA is demanding that the Juul Labs hand over not only information about its marketing practices, but documents disclosing whatever health testing it did – or did not – perform before selling its e-cigarettes.
Earlier this month, the FDA issued a warning letter to Juul Labs Inc for marketing its e-cigarettes as safer than traditional cigarettes.
Juul, which has said it is reviewing the FDA letter, also faces about 30 lawsuits alleging it illegally marketed products to children and failed to issue warnings to consumers about their dangers.
Juul has denied that it marketed its products to children.
Just two weeks ago, Illinois teenager Adam Hergenreder, 18, who fell ill with a lung disease after vaping for more than a year sued JUUL, accusing the company of deliberately marketing to young people and sending the message that vaping is cool.
HERE’S HOW VAPING CAN HARM THE BODY
The flavorings in e-cigarettes may damage blood vessels in the same way as heart disease, according to a study published in June.
The chemicals used to give the vapor flavors, such as cinnamon, strawberry and banana, can cause inflammation in cells in the arteries, veins and heart.
They cause the body to react in a way that mimics the early signs of heart disease, heart attacks or strokes, the study by Boston University found.
Other recent studies have also suggested smoking e-cigarettes could cause DNA mutations which lead to cancer, and enable pneumonia-causing bacteria to stick to the lungs easier.
Researchers at New York University subjected human bladder and lung cells to e-cigarette vapor, which is marketed as being healthier than tobacco.
They found the cells mutated and became cancerous much faster than expected and mice exposed to the vapor also suffered significant DNA damage.
Attorneys filed a lawsuit in Lake County Circuit Court on behalf of Hergenreder, who was hospitalized at the end of August for about a week after complaining of nausea and labored breathing.
The 85-page suit argued Juul Labs conveyed in advertisements and through social media campaigns that kids could boost their social status by vaping. It also said Juul never fully disclosed that their products contain dangerous chemicals.
‘To put it mildly, Adam didn’t stand a chance to avoid getting hooked on these toxic timebombs,’ said Hergenreder’s lawyer, Antonio Romanucci.
The CDC is investigating the little-understood outbreak but has not yet identified a common electronic cigarette or ingredient.
The cases, which resemble an inhalation injury, have helped trigger a swift backlash against e-cigarettes, including a proposed federal ban on flavors by the Trump administration, state-level restrictions, and an end to sales in Walmart stores nationwide.
Massachusetts’s temporary ban is the first of its kind in the nation.
Following in the footsteps of Michigan and New York, Illinois is now considering banning flavored e-cigarettes.
Meanwhile, tobacco giants Philip Morris and Altria announced that they are calling off merger talks amid safety concerns over e-cigarettes intensifying.
The makers of Marlboro cigarettes said last month that they were in discussions to become a single company, more than a decade after splitting into two as lawsuits mounted.
Altria has exclusively sold Marlboro cigarettes and other tobacco brands in the US, while Philip Morris has handled international sales.
Philip Morris International Inc CEO André Calantzopoulos said Wednesday that the companies will instead focus on launching IQOS in the US.
IQOS is a heat-not-burn cigarette alternative made by Philip Morris.
So far, in a month, nine people have been struck down by mysterious illnesses caused by vaping
REVEALED: THE TIMELINE OF THE NINE VAPING DEATHS IN THE US
An Illinois man said to be using e-cigarettes to smoke THC died on August 24 after his lungs failed when he developed a mystery lung illness.
The second person to die after vaping was a ‘middle-aged’ Oregon resident.
They were said to have recently started using an e-cigarette containing cannabis oil from a legal dispensary and passed away sometime at the end of August.
A third victim in Indiana passed away from the mysterious lung disease in August.
The patient was described only as ‘elderly’ and little else is known about them.
The fourth victim, a 65-year-old man, died sometime in August but his death wasn’t confirmed until September 6.
Minnesota officials said the patient had been using the electronic devices to smoke THC.
A 55-year-old man from Los Angeles was the fifth person to lose his life after smoking the e-cigarettes. He died on September 7.
A woman in her fifties was the sixth person to succumb to vaping-related illnesses.
The Kansas-born woman, who had a history of health problems, passed away on September 12.
A California man became the seventh person to pass away after using the devices. The 40-year-old from Tulare County died on September 17.
The Missouri man in his forties became the eighth victim to die from vaping.
He had normal lung function until he started using the devices in May.
The victim began experiencing trouble breathing which gradually got worse before he was taken to hospital in St Louis on August 22. He passed away on September 19.
A man in his fifties became the second Kansas resident to die to the vaping-related illness.
He was said to be a regular vaper who had ‘underlying health issues’. He passed on September 24.
Over the last month, the number of vaping-related illnesses in the US have continuously climbed.
In an effort to curb those illnesses, some states, including New York and Michigan banned flavored e-cigarettes.
But Massachusetts went even further on Tuesday with the state’s governor, Charlie Baker, announcing a four-month temporary ban on the sale of all e-cigarettes in the state.
As of Tuesday, 61 cases of potential cases of lung disease related to the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping in Massachusetts had been reported to the state.
Three confirmed cases and two probable Massachusetts cases of vaping-associated pulmonary disease have been reported to the CDC.
Theirs is the most aggressive executive action any state has taken yet.
Baker’s announcement came after Dr Anne Schuchat, of the CDC, told a congressional subcommittee that she believes ‘hundreds more’ lung illnesses have been reported to health authorities since last Thursday, when the CDC put the tally at 530 confirmed and probable cases.
‘We are seeing more and more cases each day and I expect the next weekly numbers will be much higher,’ Schuchat said.
Nine deaths have been reported so far.
Two week ago, President Donald Trump said his administration will be taking steps to ban flavored ‘vaping’ products
The House Oversight Economic and Consumer Policy subcommittee chairman, Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat, has called a ‘youth vaping epidemic’.
At Tuesday’s hearing Representative Mark DeSaulnier, a Democrat from California, called Juul ‘shameless’ in terms of the amount of information it has given to lawmakers.
On Wednesday, health officials from Michigan, North Carolina, Kansas and Massachusetts will appear before the Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee along with Schuchat and the FDA’s Norman Sharpless.
Two week ago, President Donald Trump said his administration will be taking steps to ban flavored ‘vaping’ products.
‘Not only is it a problem overall, but really specifically with respect to children,’ Trump said, adding that ‘we may very well have to do something very, very strong about it’.
‘It’s very dangerous. Children have died. … and we’re going to have some very strong rules and regulations,’ he added later.
The Vapor Technology Association said in a statement the flavor ban would force smokers ‘to choose between smoking again … or finding what they want and need on the black market.’
The group represents vaping manufacturers, retailers and distributors.
Vaping among 8th grade students nearly doubled in a year, study says
According to a survey released last week, the rate of nicotine vaping among 8th-graders in the US nearly doubled in the past year and the rate among 12th-graders jumped by 22 per cent.
The popularity of e-cigarettes has now grown to the point where one in four 12th-graders reported vaping a nicotine product during the previous 30 days. It’s nearly 1 in 10 for 8th-graders, the study team reports.
The actual rates are probably significantly higher because many e-cigarette users vape non-nicotine products designed to taste like mint, bubblegum, cotton candy and other sweets. Those were not included in the current analysis.
Data on the use of those products is being analyzed, but if past trends hold, the overall rate of vaping would be at least 20 per cent higher if all products are included, lead study author Richard Miech of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor said.
According to a survey released last week, the rate of nicotine vaping among 8th-graders in the US nearly doubled in the past year and the rate among 12th-graders jumped by 22 per cent
‘The (nicotine) increase is extensive and we see it in every single grade,’ he said.
‘Last year the increase in nicotine vaping was the largest increase of any substance we’ve ever tracked in 44 years. I thought, “This can’t continue.” But sure enough, it did. And this increase ranks among the largest we’ve ever seen.’
Over all, the survey of 42,531 students found daily vaping rates of 11.7 per cent among 12th graders, 6.9 per cent among 10th graders and 1.9 per cent among 8th graders.
When it came to vaping a nicotine-based product within the previous 30 days, 8th-graders showed the largest increase – a 46 per cent jump from 6.1 per cent in 2018 to 9 per cent in 2019.
Among the 12th-graders, 30-day rates went from 20.9 per cent in 2018 to 25.4 per cent earlier this year, a 22 per cent increase.
Two out of every five 12th-graders said they had tried vaping at some point in their young lives, as had one in five 8th-graders.