E-cigarette start-up, Juul Labs exploded in popularity with its initial 2015 launch. It is the highest-selling and fastest growing e-cigarette on the market. In 2017, it generated $224 million in revenue.
In 2018 that figure rose to a cool $1 billion, no big deal. However, what was once praised as Silicon Valley’s $38 billion darling, now faces an uncertain future amidst Congressional investigations, criticism by the Food and Drug Administration, and potential bans in entire countries, including the US.
Juul has faced widespread public concern over its youth-focused marketing and the long-term health impacts of its products amid a rising number of vaping-related illnesses and deaths. The Trump administration is currently exploring a ban on flavored vaping products, The Wall Street Journal reported. Such products are responsible for nearly 80% of Juul’s sales in the US, according to The Journal. The e-cigarette maker is also reportedly under criminal investigation by the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.
Newly appointed Juul CEO K.C. Crosthwaite said the company is focused on “earning the trust of society” and is working to combat underage use while providing an alternative to adult smokers,” according to a company release announcing the change in leadership.
At a time when 25% of high school seniors surveyed in the US say they’ve vaped within the last 30 days, the company is also under pressure to limit marketing and advertising to youth.
Juul’s move to suspend flavors came the same day that a small non-profit group, Center for Environmental Health, announced a legally-binding agreement of its lawsuit with the company that will limit Juul’s marketing to kids and teens in specific ways.
Specifically, Juul cannot advertise at sporting events or concerts that allow people under the age of 21. The company many not pay for or permit company employees to appear at schools. And, the company can’t use models in their ads that are under the age of 28.