WASHINGTON — Facing mounting government pressure and a public backlash over a plague of teenage vaping, Juul Labs announced on Tuesday that it might suspend sales of most of its flavored e-cigarette pods in retail stores and would discontinue its social media promotions.
The decision by the San Francisco-based company, which has quite 70 percent of the e-cigarette market share within us, is that the most vital sign of retrenchment by an industry that began to supply devices to assist smokers to quit but now shoulders blame for a replacement public health problem: drug addiction among nonsmoking teens.
Juul’s announcement effectively undercuts the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to unveil a series of measures aimed toward curbing teenage vaping.
The agency is predicted later in the week to announce a ban on sales of flavored e-cigarettes in convenience stores and gas stations and strengthen the wants for age verification of online sales of e-cigarettes.
To prevent some users from reverting to menthol cigarettes, Juul said it might keep mint, tobacco, and menthol flavors for its devices in retail stores.
In recent months, the F.D.A. has mounted an increasingly aggressive campaign against the main manufacturers of vaping products that appeal to children, focusing, particularly on Juul.
The company’s sleek device (nicknamed the iPhone of e-cigarettes) resembles a flash drive and comes with flavor pods like crème and mango, leading public health officials to criticize corporate et al.
For appearing to plug on to teenagers, who are especially susceptible to drug addiction.
E-cigarettes were originally developed to assist smokers in quit by giving them away to satisfy their nicotine cravings without the tar and deadly carcinogens that accompany burning tobacco.
“Our intent was never to possess youth use, Juul,” said Kevin Burns, chief executive of Juul Labs during a statement emailed to reporters.
“But the intent isn't enough. The numbers are what matter and therefore the numbers tell us underage use of e-cigarettes may be a problem.”
But critics and public health advocates said the corporate had no choice, especially after the F.D.A. seized documents associated with marketing strategies from the company’s headquarters last month, and while some states were investigating whether its tactics were directly aimed toward minors.
Caroline Renzulli, a spokeswoman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids called Juul’s announcement insufficient too late. “Juul’s social media marketing fueled its popularity with kids,” she said.
“Now that it's captured 75 percent of the e-cigarette market, Juul not must do social media marketing because its young customers do it for them.”
Maura Healey, the attorney general for Massachusetts, echoed that sentiment.
“Unfortunately, much of the damage has already been done,” she said.
“Our investigation into Juul’s practices, including if it had been knowingly selling and marketing its products to children, will continue.”
In a tweet, Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the F.D.A. said: “Voluntary action is not any substitute for regulatory steps #FDA will soon take.
But we would like to acknowledge actions by Juul today and urge all manufacturers to right away implement steps to start out reversing these trends.”
The F.D.A. acknowledged earlier this year that it had been caught off-guard by the soaring popularity of vaping among minors, and also began targeting shops that were selling them the products.
In September, it gave Juul and makers of a couple of other flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products 60 days to submit plans to prove they might keep them faraway from minors.
That deadline passed this past weekend.
More than three million middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes, consistent with preliminary, unpublished government data, with about one-third of them saying the flavors were an enormous think about their choice.
Mr. Burns, the Juul executive, said that as of Tuesday, the corporate would stop accepting retail orders for mango, fruit, crème, and cucumber Juul pods.
Those account for about 45 percent of retail sales for the $16 billion company, consistent with some estimates.
Lower within the announcement, the corporate said it might renew sales of these products at shops that invested in age-verification technology A timetable for resuming those sales wasn't announced.
At the top of the year, Mr. Burns said, Juul, will add a real-time photo of the requirement to match a buyer’s face against an uploaded government-issued ID.
The company also will attempt to prevent bulk shipments to people that are distributing to minors, by restricting customers to 2 devices and 15 pod packages per month, and no quite 10 devices per annum.
In addition, Juul said it might pack up its Facebook and Instagram accounts within us that promoted the utilization of the flavored pods.
According to its release, the corporate said it might ask the main social media companies, including Twitter and Snapchat, to assist them “police” posts that promote the utilization of e-cigarettes or cigarettes by underage users.
Dr. Gottlieb said earlier that officials had met with several e-cigarette and tobacco companies to debate ways to scale back youth vaping after threatening to require e-cigarettes off the market if the businesses couldn't curb teenage sales.
Some companies have indicated they might heed the F.D.A.’s warnings. In October, Altria said it might discontinue most of its flavored e-cigarettes and stop selling some brands entirely.
For the primary time, the tobacco giant also said it might support a law raising the age to 21 for the acquisition of all tobacco and vaping products, a proposal it had previously resisted.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco, also submitted plans to the F.D.A. on Friday that backed the upper regulation.
Michael Shannon, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds, said it also agreed to not market products through social media influencers and would also require age-verification for access to the web site where it sells the e-cigarette Video.
The tobacco company stopped in need of promising to require Vuse, which comes in berry and other flavors, out of retail stores, but Mr. Shannon said the corporate would enforce contractual penalties for retailers that sell tobacco products to youths.
In addition, it plans to start out a mystery shopping program to see compliance.
On Tuesday, CNBC reported that Fontem Ventures, a unit of Imperial Tobacco Group, would raise the minimum age to shop for pods on its website to 21.
The company sells blu e-cigarettes, which are available various fruity flavors.
Since it came on the market in 2015, Juul has become about irresistible to teenagers, who had been drilled since preschool days on the perils of cigarette smoking.
The name itself seemed like a mash-up of “jewel” and “cool.”
Unlike the clunky older vapes, the compact device could readily evade detection from parents and teachers.
It not only seemed like a flash drive, but it could even be recharged during a computer’s USB port.
The flavors were both alluring and complicated. And it offered how for teenagers to rebel and appear hip, seemingly without causing cancer.
And so Juul became a quick, furious hit among high school and even secondary school students.
A comprehensive report on e-cigarettes in January by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine noted that 11 percent of all high school students, or nearly 1.7 million, had vaped within the last month.
Preliminary unpublished federal data estimates that number is now a minimum of three million.
By now, students have their own vocabulary built around Juul — “juuling” has become a verb.
Schools around the country were caught unaware.
The aerosol mist from Juul is almost odorless and dissipates within seconds.
Students began juuling as teachers’ backs were turned.
They filled school bathrooms for juuling breaks. And for all that faculty officials knew, students were just diligently recharging flash drives on laptops.
Within 18 months of Juul’s release, school officials began confiscating them and providing information sessions to oldsters.
They had two paramount concerns: the increasing use of Juul and other vapes for marijuana and therefore the amount of nicotine in Juul’s pods.
Nicotine, the present chemical in tobacco is that the addictive element that binds smokers to cigarettes and vapers to Juul and other e-cigarettes.
Teenagers, whose brains are still developing, needless exposure to nicotine than adults so as to become addicted.
But perhaps most worrisome was a conclusion reached by the National Academies: that teenagers who use the devices could also be at higher risk for cigarette smoking.
In its announcement on Tuesday, Juul emphasized its product’s use among adults as an alternative to cigarette smoking and said it might still post testimonials on YouTube of adults who had switched to Juul from traditional cigarettes.
Later in the week, the F.D.A. is predicted to propose a ban on sales of flavored e-cigarettes, with a couple of exceptions; pursuit of a ban on menthol cigarettes, which could take years to travel into effect; and stricter controls of online sales to banning minors from accessing the products.