Juul halts sales of mint, its top-sell­ing e-cig­a­rette fla­vor

Baltimore Sun - - BUSINESS - By Matthew Per­rone

WASH­ING­TON — Juul Labs said Thurs­day it will halt sales of its best­selling, mint-fla­vored elec­tronic cig­a­rettes as it strug­gles to sur­vive a na­tion­wide back­lash against va­p­ing.

The vol­un­tary step comes days af­ter new govern­ment re­search showed that Juul is the top brand among high school­ers who use e-cig­a­rettes and that many pre­fer mint.

“These re­sults are un­ac­cept­able and that is why we must re­set the va­por cat­e­gory in the U.S.,” com­pany CEO K.C. Crosth­waite said in a state­ment.

Un­der­age va­p­ing has reached what health of­fi­cials call epi­demic lev­els.

In the lat­est govern­ment sur­vey, 1 in 4 high school stu­dents re­ported us­ing eci­garettes in the pre­vi­ous month, de­spite fed­eral law ban­ning sales to those un­der 18.

Un­der fire for its al­leged role in spark­ing the va­p­ing trend among teens, Juul has made a se­ries of con­ces­sions to try and weather a crack­down from lo­cal, state and fed­eral of­fi­cials. It stopped sell­ing pop­u­lar fruit and dessert fla­vors in stores last year, and last month, stopped sell­ing them on­line too.

Ear­lier, the com­pany re­placed its CEO and pledged to stop ad­ver­tis­ing its prod­ucts.

Af­ter halt­ing mint sales, Juul will only sell men­thol and tobacco fla­vors. Mint and men­thol ac­counted for nearly 60% of the com­pany’s re­tail sales in the past year, ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by Wells Fargo an­a­lyst Bon­nie Her­zog.

Fruit, candy, dessert and other fla­vored e-cig­a­rettes have been tar­geted be­cause of their ap­peal to un­der­age users. Fed­eral health of­fi­cials are ex­pected to soon re­lease plans for re­mov­ing most va­p­ing fla­vors from the mar­ket.

In Septem­ber, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said the fla­vor ban would in­clude mint and men­thol fla­vors. How­ever, no de­tails have yet been re­leased, lead­ing an­ti­va­p­ing ad­vo­cates to worry that the ad­min­is­tra­tion is back­ing away from its orig­i­nal plan.

Juul is the best­selling e-cig­a­rette brand in the U.S., but has been be­sieged by le­gal trou­bles, in­clud­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions by Congress, fed­eral agen­cies and sev­eral state at­tor­neys gen­eral.

The com­pany is also be­ing sued by adults and un­der­age Juul users who claim they be­came ad­dicted to nico­tine through the com­pany’s prod­ucts.

SETH WENIG/AP

E-cig­a­rette maker Juul Labs said it has cho­sen to halt sales of its best­selling mint­fla­vored va­p­ing pods.

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