Juul to stop selling most e-cigarette flavors in retail shops in effort to curb ‘epidemic’ levels of teen vaping

Juul Labs' e-cigarette flavored pods. Each pod delivers around 200 puffs, with a 5 percent nicotine weight, and is available to purchase in packs of four.  

Gabby Jones | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Juul Labs’ e-cigarette flavored pods. Each pod delivers around 200 puffs, with a 5 percent nicotine weight, and is available to purchase in packs of four.  

E-cigarette manufacturer Juul will stop selling fruity flavors like mango and cucumber from brick-and-mortar stores in response to the Food and Drug Administration‘s request to curb “epidemic” levels of teen vaping, according to a person briefed on the company’s plan.

Juul will pull its mango, cucumber, fruit and creme flavored nicotine pods from convenience store and other retailers, said the person, who asked not to be named because the proposal is not yet public. The company plans to restrict most of its sales to its online shop, the person said. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Juul would also stop selling its popular flavored pods in vape shops.

These flavors have drawn criticism from parents, teachers and regulators who say they attract kids to the products. Virginia tobacco, classic tobacco, menthol and mint, flavors closely aligned with traditional smoking, will remain on shelves.

Juul will continue to sell all of its flavors on its website, which uses age-verification technology to block people under the age of 21 from buying its products, this person said. It’s not immediately clear when the flavored products would be removed from store shelves.

The company declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal first reported news of the plan.

Separately, the FDA plans to announce next week new restrictions on the sales of flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes in convenience stores and gas stations, allowing them to be sold only in vape and tobacco shops that tend to enforce age restrictions better, according to senior FDA officials, who asked not to be named because the proposal is not yet public.

Menthol vapor products will still be allowed to be sold in convenience stores and gas stations — for now. The FDA plans to eventually remove menthol cigarettes and e-cigarettes entirely from the market.

The FDA also plans to ban online sales until manufacturers implement FDA-mandated guidelines for age verification, the FDA officials said.

Juul has come under fire as anecdotal reports indicate teens are using its products and preliminary federal data shows a more than 75 percent surge in high school students who are using e-cigarettes. The clear market leader, Juul has captured about 75 percent of the e-cigarette market, according to Nielsen data compiled by Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb in September gave five e-cigarette manufacturers — Juul, British American Tobacco‘s Vuse, Altria‘s MarkTen, Imperial Brands‘ Blu E-cigs and Japan Tobacco‘s Logic — until Sunday to submit proposals on how to prevent youth e-cigarette use.

Altria has already said it will remove its MarkTen pod-based products and will stop selling all flavors except for menthol or tobacco in its cig-a-like products until the FDA reviews and approves them. Other e-cigarette manufacturers are expected to soon make public their proposals to the FDA, with the 60-day mark falling on Sunday.

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