It’s almost Shakespearean.
According to the WSJ, e-cigarette company Joule, which took the US by storm five years ago — and was worth $38 billion — is about to be pulled out of the country. As the outlet reports today, the Food and Drug Administration may announce today that the San Francisco-based organization is no longer allowed to sell its products in the US.
The “marketing denial order,” writes the WSJ, would follow a nearly two-year review of data submitted by Juul, which in 2019 said it was Suspended After all the print, broadcast and digital commercials in the United States were followed by parents across the country complaining that their kids were being exposed to — and becoming addicted to — Juul’s products.
The company also agreed to stop selling its sweet-tasting e-liquid pods, which include its fruit, cream, mango and cucumber flavors.
Since that time, Juul — which sold a 35% stake in its business to tobacco giant Altria for $12.8 billion in 2018 — has sought to lobby the federal government in hopes of continuing to make its tobacco and menthol-flavored products. Millions of dollars have been spent. on the US market.
According to a report in the New York Times the last summer, Juul also submitted a 125,000-page application to the agency; Spent $40 million to settle just one lawsuit; and paid $51,000 to dedicate the entire May/June 2021 issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior to 11 studies that were funded by the company and aimed to show that Juul products can help smokers avoid traditional smoking. Help you quit cigarettes.
Juul, who was facing thousands The number of lawsuits until they are combined in a multi-district litigation to be overseen by a single federal judge also agreed to pay $22.5 million To settle a lawsuit brought by the state of Washington in April, which alleged that the company intentionally targeted teens with its products and deceived consumers about their addiction to its products.
As reported at the time, under the terms of disposalJuul admitted no wrongdoing or liability, saying it was decided “for the purpose of compromising” and to avoid further litigation (litigations that could impede the progress it needs to make with the FDA). was expected.)
Obviously, it was all too little, too late, even if the FDA would allow Juul’s biggest rivals, Reynolds American and NJOY Holdings, to market their own tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes.
Believing that its days in the US are over, Chapter now books an incredible ride for the seven-year-old company, which by its third year in business had easily won 75% of the e-cigarette market in the US, Thanks in large part to the sleek design of its nicotine vaporizer.
In fact, in 2018, it was reportedly on track to see at least $1 billion in revenue and was backed by deep pocketed investors Planned funds to be spent internationally to capture the nearly billion smokers living outside the US, including Tiger Global and Fidelity Investments
The FDA, led by then-commissioner Scott Gottlieb — who is also a physician and VC — would derail those plans. Under Gottlieb’s watch, the FDA spoke religiously about year-round vaping pen use by high school students, as well as a small but alarming percentage of middle-school-age children who started vaping. was.
Juul initially pushed back on Data. At an event hosted by this editor in the fall of 2018—the only public speaking event where Juul co-founders and former Stanford design students Adam Bowen and James Monsi have appeared together—both still shared the benefits of Juul’s flavored vaping pods. But, saying they made it easier for smokers to switch to their product and “reduce the harm.”
At the time, removing flavors was “definitely on the table,” Monse offered. But he continued to say that “we haven’t seen evidence that there is necessarily a reason for flavor to be the lead-in for younger consumers. Cigarettes have been a big hit for younger consumers for some time now.” What we see is internally strong evidence that there is a strong correlation for adult consumers to abstain from cigarettes because they move on from everything that reminds them of cigarettes, including the taste of cigarettes. is included.
it took another 13 months For Juul to suspend sales of those scented products.
Monsi and Bowen first presented their product design thesis on the “future of smoking” at Stanford in 2004. In 2007, graduates founded Plume, a vaporizer that has become a great way to consume cannabis. The company, which later became Pax Labs, later sold the rights to that Plume product to an investor in the company, Japan Tobacco International, and it began focusing on Juul e-cigarettes, in 2017 to Juul Labs as its own company. as out. ,
Juul talked publicly about the health benefits of switching from combustible cigarettes to e-cigarettes from the outset, but according to physicians and researchers, while vaping is less harmful than smoking, it is equally addictive and The unknown abounds.
For example, the data states Link to chronic lung disease and asthmaas well as the relationship between dual use of e-cigarettes and smoking cardiovascular diseaseMichael Blaha, MD, MPH, director of clinical research at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, says in an online explainer hosted by the medical center.
With vaping, he says, “you’re exposing yourself to all kinds of chemicals that we don’t yet understand and that might not be safe.”
It is unclear how much success Joule has had overseas. Juul sales in China were stopped Just a few days after it was launched inside the country in 2019. During the Pandemic, Juul Reportedly Planned Significantly Decrease Your European Presence And stop sales in Austria, Belgium, Portugal, France and Spain, according to BuzzFeed News. Europe, as BuzzFeed noted at the time, also has stricter e-cigarette regulations, including more aggressive nicotine limits than the US.
Should the FDA order Juul to hopefully remove its products from the US market, the company still has some options, notes the WSJ. It can “pursue an appeal through the FDA, challenge the decision in court, or file a revised application for its products.”