The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is poised to pull Juul Lab’s e-cigarettes off the American market.
The decision, which follows a two-year review of reams of data presented by the vaping company, could come as early as Wednesday, sources told the Wall Street Journal.
The FDA has already banned the sale of fruit-flavored e-cigarettes after critics claimed the products targeted teens. Regulators have since been reviewing thousands of applications for vaping products after tightening their oversight of the electronic cigarette market.
Juul had no immediate comment, WSJ reported. The company can challenge the expected ruling one of three ways: appeal the decision through the FDA; file a challenge in court, or file a revised application for its products.
Several years ago, Juul’s fruity flavors and “hip marketing” were blamed for jumps in underage vaping. Among the criticisms were that Juul used young adult models, celebrities and social media influencers in its marketing campaigns. In response, the company stopped using models, suspended all advertising in the United States and shut down its Facebook and Instagram accounts.
The company stopped selling its fruity and sweet flavors in 2019. In 2020, all manufacturers were required to submit their products to the FDA for review to stay on the market. They are considered a potentially less harmful alternative for adult smokers, but remain a concerning gateway to smoking for young people.
Juul’s submission to the FDA included only its menthol and Virginia Tobacco flavors in nicotine strengths of 3% and 5%. The company also pitched a new device that would only unlock for users who were 21 or older.
Juul’s popularity among young people is lower than it was in the past: It is now considered the No. 4 brand among high schoolers, according to a federal study released last September, WSJ reported.
Underage vaping in general has dropped since federal restrictions raised the age to buy any tobacco products to 21, the newspaper added.
The FDA also plans to mandate the elimination of nearly all nicotine in cigarettes, saying it would upend the $95 billion U.S. cigarette industry. Tobacco companies could sue to fight it the ruling if it happens, the newspaper reported.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on the dangers of vaping among teens.