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July 15, 2019

Juul CEO apologizes to parents for company's role in teen vaping epidemic

Kevin Burns shows remorse in upcoming CNBC documentary

Children's Health Teen Health
juul apology Lee Phillips/

Juul CEO Kevin Burns announced he is resigning on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. On Tuesday, a Kansas man became the ninth person to die from the vaping-related lung disease that has sickened 530 people in 38 states.

The end of 2018 brought us staggering statistics on the number of youths who have been able to obtain e-cigarettes and become addicted to vaping.

About 21 percent of high school seniors said they vaped nicotine within the past 30 days, according to a national survey. 

One of the most popular e-cigarette companies, Juul has been criticized for marketing their products to children — all while  maintaining they are intended for adults only — due to incorporating flavors, colors and marketing strategies that appeal to younger demographics.

This has spurred states and cities to ban vaping at the local level and even test students for nicotine use. Juul has even shut down its social media accounts and halted the sale of fruit-flavored cartridges in an effort to cut their appeal to teens.

RELATED READ: San Francisco enacts ban on e-cigarette sales to curb youth addiction

Now, Juul Labs CEO Kevin Burns has apologized to the parents of teens who have become addicted to nicotine by way of his company's products, CNBC reports.

Burns did an interview with CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla for an upcoming documentary about the rise of vaping in the United States, “Vaporized: America’s E-cigarette Addiction,” slated to premiere Monday at 10 p.m. on CNBC.

CNBC reported:

“First of all, I’d tell them that I’m sorry that their child’s using the product,” said Burns, who joined Juul in late 2017. “It’s not intended for them. I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them. As a parent of a 16-year-old, I’m sorry for them, and I have empathy for them, in terms of what the challenges they’re going through.”

According to Reuters, Juul Labs Inc. posted more than $1 billion in revenue in 2018. In December, the tobacco giant Altria Group, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, paid $12.8 billion to take a 35 percent stake in Juul, valuing the e-cigarette company at $38 billion.

Learn more about CNBC's forthcoming documentary here

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