- On Tuesday, Silicon Valley startup Juul announced that it would stop selling flavored e-cigs at stores.
- The decision is part of an attempt to eliminate teenage use of e-cigs.
- Some fans of the product, especially those who have used it as a tool to quit smoking, were upset by the announcement.
In an effort to minimise – and eventually eliminate – e-cigarette use among teens, Silicon Valley e-cigarette startup Juul announced on Tuesday that it would soon pull flavored e-cigarette pods from retail stores throughout the US.
“As of this morning, we stopped accepting retail orders for our Mango, Fruit, Creme, and Cucumber JUUL pods to the over 90,000 retail stores that sell our product, including traditional tobacco retailers (e.g., convenience stores) and specialty vape shops,” Juul CEO Kevin Burns said in a statement.
While many health experts are applauding this change, many Juul users who prefer sweet flavours are furious. Tobacco, mint and menthol flavours will remain available in corner stores and vape shops, according to Reuters.
Users quickly took to Twitter and Reddit to express their anger over the new ruling.
“Tho, I applaud your steps to fight against the teen Juul epidemic, throwing the rest of the vape industry under the bus is a s—–y move,” one Twitter user wrote. “You did create a PB&J flavour as well as some other ones. Adults vape cotton candy and gummy bear flavours.”
JUUL Labs’ priority is to decrease youth use, while still serving the adult smoker community. Today, we announced our action plan to combat underage use: https://t.co/TGHY0j1pok pic.twitter.com/45dheVD5Fj
— Juul Labs (@JUULvapor) November 13, 2018
“Kids don’t give a damn what flavour they get, as long as they get buzzed,” Reddit user station_nine wrote in the same thread. “What really worries me is that a few months from now, the data will show that this made no difference and the FDA will take the next step. ‘Removing flavored pods from convenience stores didn’t work, we will now ban them all.'”
Some users joked that eliminating sales of pods from stores could lead to an increase in illegal sales among teens.
“Soon you can only buy non-tobacco flavour Juul pods online,” the Twitter use wrote. “High school bathroom business will be booming for whichever kid stocks up now.”
“I humbly accept the position of Chief of Sales for black market pods,” another Twitter user wrote.
Former smokers – as well as friends and family members of former smokers who have used e-cigarettes are a way to quit – appear to be especially concerned.
“Literally been a smoker for over a decade (I started as a teenager – did not take a fruity flavour for me and my friends to get addicted to nicotine),” one Twitter user shared. “I have spent most of it trying to quit. My Juul purchase was the closest I’ve gotten.”
Literally been a smoker for over a decade (I started as a teenager – did not take a fruity flavor for me and my friends to get addicted to nicotine). I have spent most of it trying to quit. My juul purchase was the closest I’ve gotten.
— Brooks Brunson (@readthebrooks) November 13, 2018
“OK, but my mum actually Juuls cuz it helps her and mango is her fav flavour LOL what is she supposed to do,” another wrote.
The outrage may be premature, as Business Insider reported the removal is only temporary. The company will resume selling its flavored products to stores once they agree to adopt Juul’s new age restrictions and verification system.
The decision comes after a long-run of complaints from researchers and health advocates about the dangers that e-cigarettes pose not only to adults but to the teens who make up a growing piece of the market.
“E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous – and dangerous – trend among teens,” a September release from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reads. “The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end… The FDA won’t tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products.”
In the same statement, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb emphasised the importance of eliminating flavored pods, which many believe make the product particularly appealing to youths.
“We’re especially focused on the flavored e-cigarettes,” Gottlieb said in the statement. “And we’re seriously considering a policy change that would lead to the immediate removal of these flavored products from the market.”