The e-cigarette company Juul is facing a stiff challenge in terms of threats of much greater federal regulations over the industry as there is a growing number of vaping-related deaths in the United States which has forced the ouster of the company’s CEO.
Following the exit of the Juul CEO Kevin Burns, he was replaced by the chief growth officer at tobacco company Altria – K.C. Crosthwaite. Altria is in turn a major investor in Juul. As the chief growth officer at Altria, the responsibility of Crosthwaite was to create strategies for the company to diversify into alternatives for conventional smoking market and conventional cigarettes. He was also instrumental in the creation of commercial and regulatory frameworks for regulating the launch of iQOS in the United States. iQOS is a device that simply heats the tobacco for smoking instead of burning it completely.
Deaths of nine people in the US in recent months have been accorded to the vaping and e-cigarette smoking habits of the patients. According to the figures of the Centers for Disease Control, there have been 530 cases of people being affected by serious lung problems related to vaping and e-cigarettes as of September 17. No one company or brand of the vaping industry have however been identified by the CDC to have been responsible for the deaths and illnesses.
A new marketing strategy was announced by Juul on Wednesday. The company said it will advertisements on TV, print and digital mediums and will curb down on its lobbying efforts. The company also added that it is committed to completely adhering to and supporting the new regulations being planned by the US federal government in relation to the vaping industry and vaping products. Putting a ban on all flavored e-cigarettes is being contemplated by the US Food and Drug Administration because these are considered to be very attractive for young Americans primarily teenagers and school goers.
A number of US states are also preparing to put a complete ban on e-cigarettes.
The largest retailer of the world, Walmart, announced last week that it will stop sale of all vaping products at its stores and online.
“I have long believed in a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose alternative products like Juul,” said Crosthwaite. “Unfortunately, today that future is at risk due to unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence in our industry. Against that backdrop, we must strive to work with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders, and earn the trust of the societies in which we operate.”
Last Decemebr December, when Altria had taken up a 35% stake in Juul, the act of using vaping devices for smoking was represented as a better and less harmful alternative to conventional cigarette smoking.
Currently, in the US vaping industry, Juul is the leader in the industry by quite a margin. According to estimates by Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog, the US market share of the company currently is about 70 per cent – significantly more than its closest rival Vuse.
(Adapted from CNN.com)