Back in September, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its firm stance against e-cigarette companies selling their products to teens. It called on five specific companies, including the highly popular and widespread JUUL, to show how they were going to "convincingly address the widespread use of their products by minors."
More recently, the FDA planned to limit the sale of e-cigs to vape stores (keeping them out of convenience stores and gas stations) and to ban menthol cigarettes as well, all in the name of lowering teen smoking rates.
Today, an e-cig company has responded to the government's mounting pressure. JUUL Labs announced that it would stop selling some of its flavored e-cig pods in stores and end its social media marketing. Specifically, JUUL Labs CEO Kevin Burns stated that its mango, fruit, creme, and cucumber-flavored pods would be pulled, while the pods with menthol, mint, and tobacco flavors would remain. JUUL critics and the FDA alike have criticized JUUL's use of sweet flavors, as it appeared to be a ploy to appeal to young people.
"Our intent was never to have youth use JUUL products," Burns stated, adding that, nevertheless, underage use of their products is a growing issue and one that they wish to address with these changes. That said, these flavored pods may return to stores that are willing to follow JUUL's new sales restrictions, which include selling to only customers over 21, CNBC reports.
A similar caveat accompanies JUUL's announcement around its social media presence. Burns stated that its official Instagram and Facebook accounts will be shut down and its Twitter account's activity will be limited to "non-promotional communications." But he also acknowledged that "more than 99% of all social media content related to JUUL Labs is generated through third-party users and accounts with no affiliation to our company." So, to address and remove "inappropriate posts" about JUUL use made by such accounts, Burns stated that JUUL would be working closely with the social media platforms themselves.
Given the extent to which JUUL has permeated teen culture, it's hard not to wonder how much of an impact these changes will have. But, if fewer flavored pods on store shelves mean even a couple teens opt not to try e-cigs, that's reason enough to support these changes.