Juul CEO Stepping Down Amid Growing Backlash Against Vaping

Juul stops e-cigarette ads as teen vaping illnesses grow

Juul products are displayed at a smoke shop in New York

Juul Labs appointed Altria executive K.C. Crosthwaite as its new CEO on Wednesday, replacing Kevin Burns effective immediately.

Tobacco giant Altria owns a 35% share of San-Francisco-based Juul.

CEO André Calantzopoulos said Wednesday that the companies will instead focus on launching IQOS in the U.S. IQOS is a heat-not-burn cigarette alternative made by Philip Morris.

Altria has exclusively sold Marlboro cigarettes and other tobacco brands in the United States, while Philip Morris has handled global sales.

Altria and Philip Morris had announced in late August that they were considering a merger.

Juul and hundreds of smaller e-cigarette companies are fighting for their survival as they face two public health debacles linked to vaping: a mysterious lung illness and rising use of e-cigarettes by teenagers.

Among the challenges facing Juul are a reported criminal probe from federal prosecutors in California and questions about the safety of vaping, which prompted MA on Tuesday to place a temporary ban on all vaping products. There, Crosthwaite oversaw the FDA review of Altria's IQOS tobacco heating units. It was a a recognition at that time of what the industry saw as the tremendous growth potential for vaping. As of right now, it's the only product of its kind with premarket authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. He'd summoned executives to Washington to have them explain how the transaction aligned with their commitments. When compared to traditional tobacco products - which have remained on the shelves for decades despite being proven risky - e-cigarette makers have failed spectacularly. Juul products account for about three-quarters of all sales in the fast-growing, $6-billion U.S. industry. The talks were spurred in part by the threat Juul posed to their traditional businesses as some smokers switched away from cigarettes.

Regulators have also been looking into whether e-cigarettes trigger seizures after receiving initial reports from a handful of users of Juul devices.

A study by the University of Michigan Ann Arbor showed that one in four high school seniors reported vaping a nicotine product in the previous 30 days.

The nation's largest e-cigarette maker also pledged Wednesday not to lobby against a sweeping ban on vaping flavours proposed by the Trump administration earlier this month.

It will also be "suspending all broadcast, print and digital product advertising in the U.S.".

"I have long believed in a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose alternative products like Juul", said Crosthwaite. "That has been this company's mission since it was founded, and it has taken great strides in that direction".

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