Despite surging success of Juul Labs, the electronic cigarette company recently announced that it would halt merchandising most of its flavored e-cig pods to its retailers. The temporary stop is to appease the regulatory agency who has asked the company to help reduce the teenage e-cigarette epidemic.
This week the Food and Drug Administration was preparing a restriction order for selling flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes to retailers, especially tobacco and vape shops.
Since Tuesday, more than 90,000 vape shops, convenience stores, and other retailers that sell Juul products can no longer request mango, fruit, creme, and cucumber pods from the producer.
According to the Juul Chief Executive Officer Kevin Burns, consumers can still purchase all of Juul’s flavors through the company’s website. However, only four menthol and tobacco-flavored pods will be available in retail outlets.
Juul will not provide products to retail stores that don’t have a permit to sell flavored pods to the public. The company plans to resume business with retailers only if they implement the company’s new age restrictions and verification system. Teenagers will be prohibited by the FDA to buy the product, including those in states with a legal age of under 21.
Juul plans to increase secret shopper visits from 500 to approximately 2,000 per month. This is to more intensely monitor individual retailers and their sales practices.
In the future, retailers that will sell Juul sweet flavor pods will be asked to follow this 3-step point-of-sale technology-solution:
- Identify and flag restricted products.
- Scan and verify a government-issued I.D. (only adults with 21 years of age and above will be allowed to purchase).
- Set a limit on the quantity of Juul devices and pods purchased per transaction.
The clerk is expected to conduct these three essential steps to satisfy the goal of federal regulators. By limiting the sales quantity, it will inhibit bulk purchases of consumers, and this will lead to controlling the addiction of teenage users.
To accomplish the objective, Kevin Burns decided to shut down the promotional activity of Juul on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The company promises that its existing Youtube account will only show former adult smokers’ testimonials. It started coordinating with Instagram and Facebook to remove inappropriate content, especially videos and images showing teenagers using Juul products.
Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of the FDA, mentioned that soon the agency would take over regulatory steps but for the meantime, they want to acknowledge Juul’s initiative to encourage others to take actions to drive back youth trend of using flavored pods.
Juul is currently at the top of the e-cigarette industry. The Nielsen data brought together by Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog showed that the e-cigarette company earned $16 billion, covering 75 percent of the market as of November 3. However, this success is being countermined by the e-cigarette’s influence on youth, threatening its future.
For months, parents and lawmakers have been hounding the FDA to solve this issue because a lot of teenagers regularly use e-cigarettes. According to the preliminary federal data, approximately three million high school kids are fond of the e-vaporizer. That’s why in September, Gottlieb requested Juul and four other e-cig makers (Japan Tobacco’s Logic, Altria’s MarkTen, British American Tobacco’s Vuse, and Imperial Brands’ Blu E-cigs) to find a solution to the “epidemic” level of teen use.
Aside from Kevin Burns who is determined to be aligned with Gottlieb to get the category in a better position, the four other e-cig companies are willing to take some actions. Altria promises to discontinue distributing all flavors except for tobacco or menthol in its cig-a-like products while waiting for FDA’s approval.
Empowered by the officials, FDA will be banning online sales until manufacturers implement the mandated guidelines of the regulatory agency for age verification. The officer in the agency appreciates the effort e-cig companies take. But the requirements will be strictly e