The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a surprise inspection of popular e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL Labs last week in San Francisco, the agency reported this week.
JUUL has experienced tremendous growth and success in the past year, with many reports easily placing it at the lead in the U.S. among e-cigarette manufacturers [read more here]. With that success, however, has come much scrutiny, with the FDA and its commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, M.D., placing much blame and criticism of the popularity of JUUL with youth on the shoulders of the manufacturers. With JUUL pods containing nicotine, the FDA and Gottlieb have been pressuring the manufacturer to assist in curbing the popularity and access of its device, which looks much like a USB thumb drive, among America’s youth. JUUL was one of five manufacturers the FDA asked to submit plans to them for decreasing youth access to its products or face the possibility of having some of its products pulled from the market [read more here].
According to Wells Fargo, JUUL Labs currently occupies 72.2 percent of the U.S. e-cigarette market. It’s closest competitor is British American Tobacco who has just 9.5 percent of the U.S. e-cigarette market.
On Friday, Sept. 28, 2019, the FDA executed an unannounced inspection of JUUL Labs’ San Francisco headquarters which resulted in thousands of pages of documents being seized in the agency’s ongoing quest to investigate claims that JUUL Labs and other e-cigarette manufacturers are marketing its products to underage consumers. In a statement, Kevin Burns, JUUL Labs’ CEO, made the following statement:
“We are committed to prevent underage use, and we want to engage with FDA, lawmakers, public health advocates and others to keep JUUL out of the hands of young people. The meetings last week with FDA gave us the opportunity to provide information about our business from our marketing practices to our industry-leading online age-verification protocols to our youth prevention efforts.
“It was a constructive and transparent dialogue. We’ve now released over 50,000 pages of documents to the FDA since April that support our public statement. We look forward to presenting our plan to address youth access in the 60-day time frame as outlined by FDA. We want to be part of the solution in preventing underage use, and we believe it will take industry and regulators working together to restrict youth access.”
On Twitter, Gottlieb commented on JUUL’s increasing popularity and appeal by tweeting: “No youth should be using any tobacco/nicotine-containing product. FDA has taken – and will take – action under our Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan to target the illegal sales of e-cigarettes in the United States.” In a separate tweet, he added: “We see an opportunity for e-cigs to help adult smokers quit cigarettes and reduce their health risks; but we’ve said all along it can’t come at the expense of hooking kids on these products. We’re taking actions to address youth appeal and access to e-cigs.”
The FDA reportedly thoroughly went over every part of JUUL’s business, from its marketing practices to the age verification system on its online store. News of the surprise inspection of JUUL led to big gains of big traditional tobacco companies including British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International and Altria who saw their shares increase.
For all the latest news from JUUL Labs, visit juul.com.