US health officials on Thursday announced a ban on Juul Labs e-cigarettes.
In a press release, the Food and Drug Administration said the company would no longer be able to sell its e-cigarettes and must remove all of its products from the US market.
“We respectfully disagree with the FDA’s findings and decision and continue to believe we have provided sufficient information and data based on high-quality research to address all issues raised by the agency,” Chief Regulatory Officer at Juul Labs, Joe Murillo, said in a statement.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the FDA was poised to take the products off the market.
“Today’s action is further progress on the FDA’s commitment to ensuring that all e-cigarette and electronic nicotine delivery system products currently being marketed to consumers meet our public health standards,” FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf said in the press release.
“The agency has dedicated significant resources to review products from the companies that account for most of the U.S. market,” he added. “We recognize these make up a significant part of the available products and many have played a disproportionate role in the rise in youth vaping.”
The health organization said retailers must immediately pull the product from shelves. The ban includes Virginia-tobacco-flavored pods with nicotine concentrations of 5 and 3% and menthol-flavored pods with nicotine concentrations of 5 and 3%
“In our applications, which we submitted over two years ago, we believe that we appropriately characterized the toxicological profile of JUUL products, including comparisons to combustible cigarettes and other vapor products, and believe this data, along with the totality of the evidence, meets the statutory standard of being ‘appropriate for the protection of the public health,'” Murillo said. “We intend to seek a stay and are exploring all of our options under the FDA’s regulations and the law, including appealing the decision and engaging with our regulator. We remain committed to doing all in our power to continue serving the millions of American adult smokers who have successfully used our products to transition away from combustible cigarettes, which remain available on market shelves nationwide.”
The e-cigarette brand gained popularity in 2017 following a large social-media campaign. The brand became known for its fruity flavors and faced FDA scrutiny over concerns its marketing campaign was targeting minors.
Surveys from Truth Initiative found the brand was most popular with people under the age of 18. Last year, an FDA study estimated that over 2 million US middle-school and high-school students used e-cigarettes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that nicotine exposure from e-cigarettes can harm brain development in young adults. The products can also contain chemicals, including heavy metals and cancer-causing elements, that are harmful to the lungs, the CDC says on its website.
In 2019, Juul Labs stopped selling fruity-flavored e-cigarettes and cut back on its ad campaign. Sales of the brand have fallen in recent years. Between 2018 and 2021, the company’s value plunged from $38 billion to less than $5 billion. The company’s market share dropped from 75% in 2018 to about 42% last year as other brands nosed into the $18 billion market.