JUUL to stop selling most e-cigarette flavors in stores and add age verification

JUUL will stop selling flavored e-cigarette pods in stores. Washington Post photo by Bill O’Leary
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JUUL will stop selling flavored e-cigarette pods in stores. Washington Post photo by Bill O’Leary

Facing a looming announcement that the Food and Drug Administration will ban most retailers from selling certain flavored e-cigarette products, JUUL has announced plans to halt some sales.

One of the FDA’s biggest quarrels is with the manufacturer of e-cigarette products, which FDA’s commissioner Scott Gottlieb has said has failed to keep products away from teenagers.

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Late last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Gottlieb planned to make an announcement as early as this week to ban most flavored pod-style e-cigarettes. The potential ban would target convenience stores and gas stations.

In advance of the announcement, JUUL announced today that it will stop selling flavored JUUL pods to 90,000 retail stores, including gas stations and vape shops. While JUUL said it does not market to children, as the FDA has claimed, the organization understands that some flavors like mango, creme and cucumber make the tobacco products more appealing to youth.

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“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,” said JUUL CEO Kevin Burns in the statement.

The flavored products, while legal at age 18, will now only be available on JUUL’s website for customers age 21 and older. It will add verification measures such as the last four digits of social security numbers that will be cross referenced by third parties.

Online shoppers will be limited to 15 pod packages and two devices per month.

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The company also plans to delete its social media accounts and continue working to remove inappropriate material on third party accounts.

“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,” Burns said.

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