Juul, the e-cig maker that started at Stanford, is watching US market share evaporate – TechCrunch

Almost Shakespeare.

Juul, the e-cigarette company that swept the United States five years ago — and which was valued at its peak at $38 billion — is about to be expelled from the country, according to the Wall Street Journal. According to an outlet report earlier today, the Food and Drug Administration could announce as early as today that the San Francisco-based outfit will no longer be allowed to sell its products in the United States.

The Wall Street Journal wrote that the “marketing disapproval order” would follow a nearly two-year review of data provided by Juul, which said in 2019 it would suspend all print, broadcast and digital ads in the US after parents across the country complained that their children had become exposed. – and addicted – to the products of the company Juul.

The company also agreed to stop selling sweet-flavored e-liquid capsules, including fruit, cream, mango and cucumber flavors.

Since then, Juul — which sold a 35% stake in its business to tobacco giant Altria in 2018 for $12.8 billion — has spent millions of dollars lobbying the federal government in hopes of continuing to sell its tobacco- and menthol-flavored products. in the US market.

According to a New York Times report last summer, Juul also submitted a 125,000-page application to the agency; She shelled out $40 million to settle just one lawsuit; He paid $51,000 for the full May-June 2021 issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior dedicated to 11 company-funded studies and to show that Juul’s products help smokers quit traditional cigarettes.

Juul, which was facing thousands of lawsuits until it was combined into multi-district lawsuits under the supervision of a single federal judge, agreed to pay $22.5 million in April to settle a Washington state lawsuit that the company targeted teens with its products and deceived users. about the addiction to their products.

As reported at the time, under the terms of the settlement, Juul admitted no fault or liability, saying it was settled “for the purpose of bargaining” and to avoid further litigation (litigation that could almost be an advance it had hoped to make with the Food and Drug Administration.)

All of this effort was clearly too little and came too late, even while the Food and Drug Administration would apparently allow Juul’s biggest competitors, Reynolds American and NJOY Holdings, to continue selling their tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes to the market.

Assuming its days in the US are over, the chapter ends an amazing journey for the now seven-year-old company, which has handily won over 75% of the US e-cigarette market by its third year in business, thanks in large part to The elegant design of the nicotine vaporizer.

In fact, in 2018, it was reportedly on track to generate at least $1 billion in revenue and had the support of wealthy investors, including Tiger Global and Fidelity Investments, money it plans to spend internationally to catch the nearly one billion smokers living abroad. from the United States

The Food and Drug Administration, led at the time by Commissioner Scott Gottlieb — also a physician and VC — would block those plans. In Gottlieb’s hour, the Food and Drug Administration spoke religiously about the annual use of vaping pens by high school students, as well as a smaller but alarming percentage of middle school-aged children who have started vaping.

Juul initially paid for the data. At an event hosted by this editor in the fall of 2018 — the only public event where Juul founders and former Stanford design students Adam Bowen and James Muncies appeared together — the two were still arguing about the benefits of Juul-flavored e-cigarette capsules, saying they They made it easier for smokers to switch to their products and “harm reduction.”

At the time, removing flavors was “definitely on the table,” Monces offered. But he continued, “We haven’t seen evidence of a deterministic reason that flavors are an introduction to underage consumers. Cigarettes have been a major problem for underage consumers for some time. What we’re seeing is really strong evidence of a much stronger association between adult consumers who stay away from cigarettes while they stay away from everything that reminds them of cigarettes in the first place, including the taste of cigarettes.”

It took another 13 months for Juul to suspend sales of those flavored products.

Muncis and Bowen first presented their product design thesis on the “future of smoking” at Stanford in 2004. Three years later, in 2007, alumni founded Bloom, who produced cannabis vaporizers. Later, the company Pax Labs came along, sold the rights to this Ploom product to an investor in the company (Japan Tobacco International) and began to focus on Juul electronic cigarettes. In 2017, she founded Juul Labs as her own company.

Juul has spoken publicly from the start about the health benefits of switching from combustible cigarettes to e-cigarettes, but according to doctors and researchers, while vaping is less harmful than smoking, it’s just as addictive and unknowns abound.

For example, the data point to associations with chronic lung disease and asthma, as well as associations between dual use of e-cigarettes and smoking with cardiovascular disease, says Michael Blaha, MD, MPH, director of clinical research at Johns Hopkins Cicarone Center for Prevention Cardiology in an online explanation hosted by the medical center.

If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration orders Juul to remove its products from the U.S. market as expected, the company still has some options, the Wall Street Journal notes. It can “pursue an appeal with the Food and Drug Administration, challenge the decision in court or file a revised application for its products.”

In the meantime, it’s not clear how much success Juul has had abroad. Sales of Juul ceased in China just days after it launched in the country in 2019.

During the pandemic, Juul also reportedly planned to significantly reduce its European presence and halt sales in Austria, Belgium, Portugal, France and Spain, according to BuzzFeed News. Europe, as BuzzFeed noted at the time, has stricter regulations on e-cigarettes than the United States, including stricter nicotine limits.

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