By Chris Kirkham
(Reuters) – E-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc said on Thursday it will completely halt U.S. sales of all flavors except tobacco, mint and menthol, as the company faces heightened scrutiny from regulators, lawmakers and state attorneys general over the appeal of its nicotine products to teenagers.
Thursday’s move, which ends online sales, means Juul’s mango, fruit, creme and cucumber nicotine pod flavors will no longer be available for sale anywhere in the United States. The company last year pulled those flavors from retail stores but continued to sell them on its website with what the company said were “strict age-verification controls.”
Juul’s new chief executive, K.C. Crosthwaite, a veteran of Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc, announced the move Thursday as the company attempts to repair its relationship with regulators.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month warned Juul that it was misleading consumers by marketing its products as safer than cigarettes, and requested additional information on its nicotine blend. Soon after, the Trump administration announced plans to ban all flavored e-cigarette products, citing alarming growth in teenage use of the products.
Soon after, Juul’s former CEO, Kevin Burns, stepped down.
Crosthwaite said in a statement Thursday that the company needs to “reset the vapor category” by “earning the trust of society,” working “cooperatively” with regulators and policymakers.
He previously said the company would suspend all advertising in the United States, stop its support of a San Francisco ballot measure that would overturn an e-cigarette ban and refrain from lobbying the Trump administration on the proposed flavor ban.
Juul will continue to sell mint, menthol and tobacco flavors online and in stores, though a spokesman said Thursday “we continue to review our policies and practices” in advance of the FDA’s proposed flavor ban and “have not made any final decisions.” The company will “fully support and comply with the final policy when effective.”
(Reporting by Chris Kirkham; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)