Juul, the e-cigar maker started at Stanford, sees its US market share evaporate – TechCrunch

It’s almost Shakespearean.

Juul, the e-cigarette maker that took the US by storm five years ago – and is valued at a peak of $38 billion – is about to be kicked out of the country, according to the WSJ. Follow store report earlier today, the Food & Drug Administration could announce as early as today that San Francisco-based apparel is no longer authorized to sell its products in the United States.

The WSJ writes: The “marketing disapproval” will follow a nearly two-year review of data presented by Juul, which in 2019 said it had suspended of all print, broadcast, and digital advertising in the United States after parents across the country complained that their children were increasingly exposed to — and addicted to — Juul products.

The company also agreed to stop selling sweet-flavored e-liquids, including fruit, creme, mango and cucumber flavors.

Since that time, 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. federal government in hopes of continuing to sell tobacco and menthol-flavored products. on the US market.

As reported by the New York Times last summer, Juul also filed a 125,000-page application with the agency; spend $40 million just to settle a lawsuit; and paid $51,000 for the entire May/June 2021 issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior devoted to 11 studies sponsored by the company and purported to show that Juul products help smokers quit traditional cigarettes.

Juul, was faced with Thousands lawsuits until they are combined into a multi-district lawsuit overseen by a single federal judge, also agreeing to pay 22.5 million dollars in April to settle a lawsuit brought by Washington state alleging the company intentionally targeted teenagers with its products and misled consumers about the addictiveness of their products.

As reported at the time, under the terms of settlementJuul acknowledged no wrongdoing or liability, saying it was resolved “for the sake of compromise” and to avoid further litigation (litigation that could impede progress it hopes to achieve). with the FDA.)

Clearly, all that effort is too little and comes too late, even if the FDA will apparently allow Juul’s biggest rivals Reynolds American and NJOY Holdings to continue selling flavored e-cigarettes. their own leaves on the market.

Assuming its days in the US are over, this chapter concludes an incredible ride for the now seven-year-old company, which has easily captured 75% of the US e-cigarette market in its third year. business, thanks in large part to the sleek design of the nicotine vaporizer.

Indeed, in 2018 it is said to be on track to hit at least $1 billion in revenue and has the backing of investors with deep pockets, including Tiger Global and Fidelity Investments, which they plan to spend internationally to attract about a billion smokers living outside the US

The FDA, led at the time by Commissioner Scott Gottlieb — who is also a physician and VC — would derail those plans. Following Gottlieb’s follow-up, the FDA spoke of religion about the annual use of vaping pens by high school students, as well as the smaller but alarming percentage of high school-age kids who start vaping.

Juul initially pushed back the data. At an event hosted by this editor in the fall of 2018 – the only public speaking event where Juul co-founder and Stanford design alumnus Adam Bowen and James Monsees appeared together – both are still debating the benefits of Juul’s flavored vaping pods, saying they have made it easier for smokers to switch to their products and “reduce harm”.

At the time, flavor removal was “certainly on the table,” Monsees put it. But he goes on to say that “we have not seen evidence that there is a definitive cause for taste to be the driving factor for underage consumers. Tobacco was once a big problem for underage consumers. What we see strong internal evidence is a much stronger correlation for adult consumers staying away from tobacco as they move beyond everything that reminded them of tobacco in the first place, including even the taste of tobacco. “

It took a 13 months for Juul to suspend the sale of such flavored products.

Monsees and Bowen first presented their product design thesis on “the future of smoking” at Stanford in 2004. In 2007, the graduate students founded Ploom, a vaporizer that has become a good way to consume cannabis. The company, later Pax Labs, later sold the rights to that Ploom product to an investor in the company, Japan Tobacco International, and began focusing on Juul e-cigarettes, making Juul Labs a company. its own in 2017.

Juul has spoken publicly from the beginning 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 also causes harm. equally addictive and still unknown.

Example: suggestive data associated with chronic lung disease and asthmaas well as the associations between dual use of e-cigarettes and smoking with heart-related diseaesMichael Blaha, MD, MPH, director of clinical research at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, said in an online explanation hosted by the medical center.

With vaping, he adds, “You’re being exposed to all sorts of chemicals that we don’t fully understand and are probably not safe.”

It’s unclear how much success Juul has achieved overseas. Juul’s sales in China are pause just a few days after its domestic debut in 2019. During the pandemic, Juul is also said to have planned considerably. shrinking its presence in Europe and stopped selling in Austria, Belgium, Portugal, France and Spain, according to BuzzFeed News. Europe, as BuzzFeed noted at the time, also has strict regulations on e-cigarettes, including stronger nicotine limits in the US.

The WSJ notes that if the FDA asks Juul to remove its products from the US market as planned, the company still has some options. It can “pursue an appeal through the FDA, challenge the decision in court, or file an amended application for its products.”

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