The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is nearing a decision to order electronic cigarette company Juul Labs to remove its e-cigarettes from the U.S. market, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Juul has been under review by the FDA for about two years. The vaping company has been providing data to the FDA in hopes of keeping its tobacco and menthol-flavored products on the U.S. market.
It’s been a rough few years for Juul, which has received much blame for a rise in underage vaping. A study from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated over 2 million middle and high school students in the U.S. reported using e-cigarettes in 2021. More than 8 in 10 used flavored e-cigarettes.
At one point in 2017, Juul faced so much demand for its e-cigarettes that it struggled to keep up. According to a 2017 CNBC article, Juul’s e-cigarettes accounted for 27% of dollar market share of the total e-cigarette category for four weeks in August and September.
At the time, then-CEO Tyler Goldman called the demand “a good problem to have” as the company sought to convert cigarette users. Less than two months later, Goldman left the company to “pursue new entrepreneurial activities.” In 2019, the FDA issued a warning letter to Juul for “marketing unauthorized, modified risk tobacco products, including in outreach to youth.” The company eventually stopped selling its sweet and fruity flavors, and in 2020, the FDA blocked the sale of fruit and mint-flavored e-cigarette cartridges.
According to Business Insider, the company’s value dropped from $38 billion to less than $5 billion between 2018 and 2021. In 2021, Juul also reported a net loss of $259 million.
The FDA’s looming order would also affect Altria Group Inc., the parent company of Philip Morris USA, which produces Marlboro cigarettes. In 2018, Altria paid $12.8 billion for a 35 percent stake in Juul. At the time of the deal, Juul was valued at approximately $35 billion. As of March 31 of this year, Altria valued its stake at $1.6 billion.
Additionally, the FDA is working on a Biden Administration plan to eliminate nearly all nicotine in cigarettes. Such a policy is projected to send a blow to the $95 billion U.S. cigarette industry.
Between recording and publication, the FDA officially ordered Juul to pull its electronic cigarettes from the U.S. market.