As of Wednesday September 25, Kevin Burns, Juul CEO, has resigned. Juul has also suspended all broadcast, digital, and print advertising in the US “effective immediately.”
This move arrives on the crest of a wave of illnesses that have been linked erroneously in the public mind—thanks largely to public health officials—to vaping. As a result, e-cigarette companies like Juul are now facing tremendous regulatory scrutiny. Juul has also promised to “refrain from lobbying” the President Trump regarding the proposed flavored e-cigarette vape ban.
Altria tobacco executive K.C. Crosthwaite will replace Burns as Juul’s CEO. Altria holds a $13 billion stake in Juul. According to a statement from Juul, Crosthwaite will lead a “broad review of the company’s practices and policies” and help the company “combat youth usage.”
Fighting the good fight?
Although Juul has suspended its advertising, it may still be backing the San Francisco campaign to quash the citywide vaping ban. According to Forbes, the company has already $11.6 million toward those efforts, which has funded mostly ads in the form of fliers, billboards, and television spots.
The campaign, called the Coalition for Reasonable Vaping Regulation, is led by communications director Nate Allbee. Albee did not know, when asked by Forbes, if Juul would continue to fund the campaign.
One important source of funding is opposing the group: former presidential candidate and former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg has thus far donated about one percent of his $160 million pledge, designed to be anti-smoking, although that is questionable, to SF Kids vs. Big Tobacco. The group aims to keep the San Francisco vape ban in place.
So far, Juul does not appear to be fighting much of this action. The fact is, things are probably going to get much tougher for vapers and vape companies before they get easier. We’ll be watching to see what the new Juul CEO does.