The nation’s most popular e-cigarette company has suspended sale of its flavored products at over 90,000 brick and mortar stores nationwide. This development underwhelms Montana health officials.
Nicole Aune describes JUUL Labs’ announcement as, “A little too late and it’s not quite enough.”
Aune, the program manager for the Montana Health Department’s tobacco use prevention program, says e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among Montana’s youth.
“Almost half of Montana high school students have tried e-cigarettes and almost a quarter are using them regularly.”
Aune says JUUL owns almost 75 percent of the nation’s lucrative e-cig market with sales jumping almost 650 percent in a single year.
“JUUL looks like a flash drive, it can be charged via computer, it’s easily concealable and that appeals to youth. These products are new and attractive, and they take nicotine in a different form that kids have not seen before.”
The company announced this week it will temporarily stop supplying its physical retailers with flavored liquid nicotine cartridges. Those flavors include mango, fruit, cucumber and crème.
Those products will continue to be available at its online store, but JUUL says it will only sell to those who can prove they’re at least 21 years old. It won’t allow them to be sold at stores again until those retailers invest in technology designating JUUL products as restricted to under-age customers.
Aune says the company made this move only after the federal Food and Drug Administration compelled JUUL to explain how it will try to prevent youth from using their product.
“This is not a proactive approach from JUUL, this is a reactive approach. Yes, they’re taking a step in the right direction, but it's only after the FDA has come after them."
The company also vowed to eliminate its Facebook and Instagram accounts.
But again, Aune is unimpressed. She says the company’s younger customers are so taken with the JUUL brand they frequently feature it in their own social media accounts anyway.
Other brands of e-cigarettes continue to be available at other Montana stores.