Juul Labs are back in the news again after FDA investigators made a surprise visit to the headquarters in San Francisco last week and seized thousands of documents related to the sale and marketing of their product. This surprise visit comes as part of a more extensive investigation associated with the growing epidemic of e-cigarette usage among kids.
In April, the United States Food and Drug Administration requested documents from a handful of e-cigarette manufacturers related to the sale of their products to children. Last month, Juul Labs and other e-cigarette manufacturers received an order from the FDA to come up with a plan to curtail the usage of e-cigarettes among adolescents in sixty days or see their products pulled from the shelves.
This summer, the FDA participated in what they called an ‘undercover blitz’ of brick and mortar e-cigarette retailers that they caught selling e-cigarettes to children. As a result of that blitz, they have issued over 1,300 letters of warning to the stores and locations that they visited.
What Makes Juul Different
While most e-cigarette manufacturers received the order, Juul Labs received special attention from the FDA due to their skyrocketing popularity among kids. From 2016 to 2018, the average number of high-school aged kids who used tobacco products via an e-cigarette grew by 75%. Juul Labs dominates this new market share, with the majority of this new market share, at 55%, representative of their sales. A majority of this is due to their sleek, flash-drive-esque design, which is easy to hide from parents and teachers, and fruity and candy flavors which appeal to kids.
In a statement released after the raid, Juul Labs CEO Kevin Burns described the FDA’s surprise visit as more of a meeting and stressed that his company was willing and able to work with the FDA to curtail youth use of the electronic cigarette. Burns also added more context about the number of documents released to the FDA (55,000, to be exact) and included more information about the current steps that they plan to take to ensure that their product stays out of the hands of American youth.