Juul’s CEO Resigns In Response To Health Epidemic

As the United States continues to fight a massive vaping-related lung illness epidemic, Juul Labs, one of the countries largest and newest e-cigarette distributors, has taken some hefty measures. Kevin Burns, the CEO of Juul Labs, has resigned effective immediately on Wednesday (September 24th). While the official word is that Burns resigned, representatives from the Altria Group, Juul Lab’s top investors, say it was their decision.

Burns personally apologized for contributing to the teen vaping epidemic with the announcement that he was leaving the company stating that he’s “very proud of [his] team’s efforts to lead the industry toward much needed category-wide action to tackle underage usage of these products, which are intended for adult smokers only.” 

Taking over for Burns will be Altria’s current senior vice president and chief strategy and growth officer, K.C. Crosthwaite. The company also announced that the business merger that was in the works between Juul and Philip Morris International, which sells Marlboro internationally, has been cancelled. Additionally a statement was released stating that Juul Labs will no longer produce any broadcast, print, and digital advertisements for itself in a greater attempt to comply with new federal e-cigarette policies as our government continues to finalize them. So the company is taking some major steps to get the hear from this epidemic off of them. 

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The United States has reported up to 530 cases of vape-related lung illness, and nine deaths among six different states. Scientists still have no idea what the main cause of this illness is, and while a majority of the vape products linked to these cases contain THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, they are still deeply analyzing ingredients in e-cigarette and nicotine vapes as well. 

A year ago Juul most likely never saw such a major downward spin coming, as the company became one of the most popular e-cigarette products on the market; which was precisely the problem. Juul Labs was known for their sleek USB-esque design and multitude of flavor pods such as fruit punch and creme brulee. This isn’t Juul’s first run in with government regulations, back in October 2018, the FDA performed a surprise raid of the companies headquarters and seized thousands of documents in an attempt to prove that Juul was purposefully advertising to a younger audience with its “fun and fruity” flavors. While Juul Labs never formally admitted to the accusation, the company did cease the distribution of any flavored pods besides tobacco, menthol, and mint. However, with a massive amount of off-brand Juul-compatible pods being left on the market, the teenage epidemic continued. 

Today, however, the Trump administration is working hard to federally regulate all flavored vaping products in response to the growth in teenage vape use, and rising national health concerns. So far there’s been a massive success, for example New York has already banned the selling of any flavored vape products/liquids. 

In a statement made to USA Today, new CEO Crosthwaite said the company “will continue a broad review of the company’s practices and policies to ensure alignment with its aim of responsible leadership within the industry. I have long believed in a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose alternative products from cigarettes, however that future is at risk due to unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence in our industry. Against that backdrop, we must strive to work with regulators and policymakers and earn the trust of the societies in which we operate. That includes inviting an open dialogue, listening to others and being responsive to their concerns.”