Juul announced Thursday that it would stop selling flavors such as creme, fruit, and mango until further notice. The move comes amid intense pressure from the White House and state legislators to curb what is being deemed a crisis of vaping among teens.
As of 1 p.m. yesterday, Juul is selling only four flavors: Virginia Tobacco, tobacco, menthol, and mint. A poll from vaping site Vaping360 shows that consumers love mango far above the other flavors, though mint is second. Last year, the company stopped selling its fruit flavors in brick-and-mortar stores. This new hiatus will remove flavors from age-restricted online vendor shops as well.
The decision came the day after the House Appropriations Committee called a hearing on e-cigarettes and Energy and Commerce held a hearing on the “Youth Tobacco Epidemic.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one in five high school students has used an electronic cigarette. In general, vaping has been under heavy scrutiny thanks to a vaping illness that has injured 1,479 and claimed 33 lives, according to the most recent figures from the CDC. In response, the Food and Drug Administration has strongly urged people to stop vaping, and the White House has promised to ban most vaping flavors. In a statement to CNBC, Juul said it awaits FDA guidance on flavors and plans on complying.
Critics have long complained that Juul’s fruit flavors (and their early naming conventions, such as “cool cucumber”) are meant to attract younger consumers. Juul has maintained publicly that it was never the company’s intention to attract a young audience, though reporting from the New York Times revealed that employees involved in its early campaigns featuring young models and kaleidoscope color schemes were aware these images could appeal to kids. Some critics are dissatisfied with Juul’s decision to continue selling mint and menthol flavors, because those are still popular flavorings.
Juul has taken several steps to shield its image by making its marketing more adult, using models over 35, and giving its products more austere names. Still, youth vaping, by way of Juul or other purveyors, has continued to rise.