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Juul Halts Sales of Flavored E-Cigarettes to C-Stores

Stops certain retail orders, limits online ordering, beefs up age verification
Photograph courtesy of Juul Labs

SAN FRANCISCO --  Juul Labs on Nov. 13 stopped accepting retail orders for its Mango, Fruit, Creme and Cucumber Juul pods from the more 90,000 retail storesincluding convenience stores, tobacco retailers and vape shopsthat sell its products. The change is a reaction to increasing sensitivities about the appeal of flavored electronic cigarettes among young people and growing scrutiny by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA is expected to announce a ban on flavored e-cigarettes in c-stores as early as today. The agency is also said to be mulling a ban on menthol cigarettes.

Juul will make those flavors available only on Juul.com, where it is adding further age-verification measures to an online sales system that is restricted to people 21 years old and uses third-party verification. To prevent bulk shipments to those attempting to distribute to minors, it is limiting online customers to two devices and 15 Juul pod packages per month, and no more than 10 devices per year.

By the end of the year, Juul’s age-verification system will include additional protections, such as two-factor authentication, which verifies a user’s identity through their phone number, and then requires a code sent to that phone to create an account. It will also add a real-time photo requirement to match a user’s face against uploaded identification.

“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,” said Kevin Burns, CEO of San Francisco-based Juul Labs, in a message posted to the company’s website. "We won’t be successful in our mission to serve adult smokers if we don’t narrow the on-ramp. Our intent was never to have youth use Juul products. But intent is not enough; the numbers are what matter, and the numbers tell us underage use of e-cigarette products is a problem. We must solve it. For us to successfully fulfill our mission of helping adult smokers, we must be trusted—and we must earn that trust. That starts with action, not words.”

“Our data shows that flavors play a critical role in adult smokers’ ability to switch from combustible cigarettes, but we must prevent youth access,” he said. “This is why we are using the strongest tools available to prevent underage purchases on our website, while still maintaining the availability of flavored Juul pods for adult smokers who deserve the best chance of switching from cigarettes.”

Juul is also shutting down its social-media accounts and continuing to monitor and remove inappropriate material from third-party accounts, the company said.

“There is no question that this user-generated social media content is linked to the appeal of vaping to underage users,” Burns said.

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