Juul names new CEO, suspends all advertising in U.S. — but no change in Canada
Juul’s CEO has abruptly stepped down, and the company will suspend all broadcast, print and digital product advertising in the United States as a crackdown on the vaping industry it dominates intensifies.
The departure of Juul co-founder and CEO Kevin Burns is effective immediately, and the company will halt all digital, print and broadcast advertising in the U.S. as of now, the San Francisco-based company said in a news release Wednesday. But the company is making no such changes in Canada, or anywhere else.
The firm has named veteran tobacco industry executive K.C. Crosthwaite to take over from Burns.
“Juul Labs is a global company and this announcement impacts the U.S. only,” a spokesperson for the company told CBC News on Wednesday.
Originally designed to be a product to help smokers wean themselves off tobacco, vaping and the industry have been criticized for seemingly getting an entirely new generation of people to start consuming tobacco — especially young people.
The company became a hit largely because its pods had a higher nicotine content than other comparable products, and Juul offers fruit and dessert flavours. It also uses viral marketing campaigns that seemingly target young people, despite age limitations to use their product in most jurisdictions.
According to U.S. government estimates, roughly one in four American teenagers has used some sort of e-cigarette in the previous month. The Food and Drug Administration has warned Juul to stop using deceptive advertising claims in its marketing, a message that seems to have resonated with the company, as it also announced on Wednesday it will suspend all broadcast, print and digital product advertising in the U.S., and will stop lobbying the government to implement legislative policies that benefit it.
Wednesday’s moves seem designed to show the company is making an abrupt change in its corporate direction.
In a news release, Crosthwaite said: “I have long believed in a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose alternative products like Juul,” he said. “Unfortunately, today that future is at risk due to unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence in our industry.
“Against that backdrop, we must strive to work with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders, and earn the trust of the societies in which we operate.”