September 25, 2019
Juul CEO Kevin Burns has stepped down amid multiple investigations into the e-cigarette company's products and advertising, as well a worrying spike in vaping-related lung diseases that have resulted in nine deaths across the U.S.
Burns' resignation comes on the heels of news that, on Tuesday, a Kansas man became the ninth person to die from the vaping-related illness. There have been 530 reported cases of severe lung diseases related to vaping spread among 38 states. A new criminal investigation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is digging into the sources of dangerous e-cigarette products.
Burns will be replaced by K.C. Crosthwaite, a former executive at tobacco-producer Altria, which had 35% stake in Juul, as of last year.
Juul also announced it would cease all advertising in the U.S. after the FDA issued a warning letter to the company, saying the government would seize its products or issue a hefty fine if the company did not stop claiming in its ads that Juul products were safer than traditional cigarettes. The company also said it would stop making kid-friendly flavors, like mango and fruit.
Earlier this month, television companies CBS, Viacom, and WarnerMedia all confirmed they would stop airing commercials for e-cigarettes companies, including Juul. Walmart also pledged to stop selling e-cigarettes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 67% of vaping-related illnesses are among patients between the ages of 18 and 34 — and 16% are those under 18.
Officials in Pennsylvania reported 17 people have been hospitalized in the state this month with the lung disease believed to be linked to vaping. Another 30 cases are being investigated.
In South Jersey, three teenagers have filed separate federal lawsuits against Juul Labs, alleging the company targeted youth through its marketing strategies, flavors, and design. All three teens became addicted to nicotine after using Juul products, the lawsuits contend.