JUUL Pulls Flavored Nicotine Pods from Stores

In compliance with FDA crackdown on flavored e-cigs, JUUL announces action plan to reduce teen smoking.

JUUL has announced that it is ceasing sales of most of its flavored nicotine pods for its e-cigarettes in retail temporarily as it looks to appease the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is cracking down on underage use of e-cigarettes by targeting flavored e-cigs.

Kevin Burns, CEO of JUUL Labs, explained the company’s action plan via a blog on the company’s website.

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As of Nov. 13, JUUL has stopped accepting retail orders for Mango, Fruit, Creme and Cucumber JUUL pods to the more than 90,000 retail stores that sell JUUL products, including traditional tobacco retailers (e.g., convenience stores) and specialty vape shops.

Consumers will still be able to buy all of JUUL’s flavors on its website, where the company is adding additional age-verification measures that use third-party verification to confirm ages are accurate. Online order sizes will be restricted to two devices and 15 JUUL-pod packages per month, and no more than 10 devices per year to prevent potential distribution to minors. Retailers will continue to sell its four tobacco and menthol-flavored pods.

“JUUL Labs and FDA share a common goal – preventing youth from initiating on nicotine. To paraphrase Commissioner Gottlieb, we want to be the off-ramp for adult smokers to switch from cigarettes, not an on-ramp for America’s youth to initiate on nicotine. We won’t be successful in our mission to serve adult smokers if we don’t narrow the on-ramp,” Burns said.

In C-Stores
Only JUUL pods that mirror what is currently available for combustible cigarettes – tobacco and menthol-based products (Menthol and Mint pods) – will be sold to retail stores, including traditional tobacco retailers (e.g., convenience stores) and specialty vape shops,” Burns said. To secure sales of these products, we are immediately increasing our secret shopper program, from 500 visits per month to roughly 2,000 per month, to verify that our standards are being followed by retailers.”

JUUL is also imposing financial consequences against retailers caught by FDA selling to minors or allowing bulk sales of our products.

“We will permanently cut off all sales to retail stores with multiple violations,” Burns warned.

JUUL is also working to remove listings for JUUL from online marketplaces that sell its products in violation of terms of service.

“This year alone, JUUL Labs has worked with online marketplaces, such as eBay, Alibaba, Amazon and DHgate, to remove more than 23,000 third-party listings of JUUL products and/or counterfeits,” he said.

Social Media Shut Down
JUUL Labs is deleting its social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram and continuing to monitor and remove inappropriate material from third-party accounts.

“We have never used Snapchat. Our presence on Twitter will be confined to non-promotional communications only. YouTube will only be used for posting testimonials of former adult smokers who have switched to the JUUL system, in part to support online content on JUUL.com. We have already imposed 21+ age-gating restrictions for users to access our YouTube content,” Burns said.

Future Look
“We will only restart accepting orders for Mango, Cucumber, Fruit, and Creme from retail stores that can legally sell flavors and comply with the criteria of our new 21+ Restricted Distribution System:

  • Retail stores must invest in technology that designates flavored JUUL products as restricted.
  • Once the products are designated restricted, clerks must electronically scan I.D.s for flavored JUUL pod purchases, as well as visually verify the customer’s I.D. Purchasers will need to be 21+ to buy flavored JUUL pods regardless of local laws.
  • Once an I.D. is scanned, the user will be age-verified, and the sale quantity will be limited to prevent bulk purchases.

New Technology to Help
JUUL plans to rely on the latest in technology to bolster device protections.

“We are developing end-to-end traceability to track where a specific JUUL device or JUUL pod was purchased to focus enforcement efforts on bad actors. Keeping track of devices through a serial number is one of the most effective ways we can monitor where our products are ending up, as well as identify counterfeit products,” Burns said. “JUUL Labs has also invested tens of millions of dollars and spent over a year working on our next-generation, Bluetooth-enabled device, which will break new ground on access restrictions at the user level.”

“Our next-generation device will first launch in select international markets. We intend to work cooperatively with FDA to explore a regulatory pathway to bring this product to market in the U.S. We strongly believe such technologies will provide new levels of control that combustible cigarettes could never offer and are fully committed to provide these options to all adult smokers looking to switch,” he said.