Juul halts sales of mint-fla­vored e-cig­a­rettes in US

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON — Juul Labs said Thurs­day it will halt U.S. sales of its best-sell­ing, 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,” said the com­pany’s CEO K.C. Crosth­waite, adding in a state­ment that the com­pany must “earn the trust of so­ci­ety.”

Un­der­age va­p­ing has reached what health of­fi­cials call epi­demic lev­els. In the lat­est govern­ment sur­vey, 1 in 4 high school stu­dents re­ported us­ing e-cig­a­rettes in the pre­vi­ous month, de­spite fed­eral law ban­ning sales to those un­der 18.

Un­der fire for its al­leged role in spark­ing the va­p­ing craze 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. For years, Juul has ar­gued that its e-cig­a­rettes are in­tended to help adult smok­ers switch to a less harm­ful nico­tine prod­uct. But its early mar­ket­ing cam­paigns were mainly on so­cial me­dia and fea­tured young, stylish models. The com­pany sub­se­quently shut­tered its Face­book and In­sta­gram ac­counts.

Af­ter halt­ing mint sales, Juul will only sell men­thol and tobacco fla­vors. Mint and men­thol ac­counted for nearly 60 per­cent 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, and Juul has said it will sup­port and com­ply with that govern­ment pol­icy.

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

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for those groups im­me­di­ately crit­i­cized Juul for not also pulling its men­thol fla­vor.

Mint and men­thol have of­ten been treated in­ter­change­ably by va­p­ing re­searchers.

But a new study re­leased Mon­day sug­gests men­thol doesn’t have the same ap­peal as mint.

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