Amid vaping-related deaths, JUUL CEO Kevin Burns resigns
On Wednesday, JUUL Labs announced that its CEO, Kevin Burns, has decided to step down as the e-cigarette manufacturer faces scrutiny over the recent reports of deaths and illnesses due to vaping. As part of the announcement, JUUL also said that it would suspend all broadcast, print and digital product advertising in the US. Here are more details.
'Now was the right time for me to step down'
Burns stated, "I have worked non-stop, helping turn a small firm into a worldwide business, so a few weeks ago I decided that now was the right time for me to step down." He added, "I am very proud of my team's efforts to lead the industry toward much needed category-wide action to tackle underage usage of these products, intended for adult smokers only."
JUUL accused of advertising vapes to minors
Notably, JUUL has been facing intense criticism over the growing popularity of its USB device-shaped vape among minors. The company was accused of advertising its products towards the youth, even though JUUL maintained its target audience was "adult smokers." In fact, on Monday, US federal authorities launched a criminal probe against JUUL as eight people died and 530 suffered lung damage due to vaping.
'Shit happens,' said Burns on vaping controversy
Speaking to Time Magazine in July, Burns addressed the JUUL health crisis saying, "Shit happens. We've got to respond. I would love it to be less dynamic here than it is, because it's not easy on the organization." Burns had further said, "But I think the organization understands that we're at the forefront here and it's going to be volatile."
Under Burns' leadership, JUUL expanded exponentially
In the announcement, JUUL stated, "Over the course of Burns' tenure, JUUL Labs grew from a firm with fewer than 300 hundred employees operating in the U.S. to a company with thousands of employees and operations in 20 countries around the world."
Burns succeeded by KC Crosthwaite
According to JUUL's announcement, Burns will be replaced by KC Crosthwaite effectively immediately. Previously, Crosthwaite served as the Chief Growth Officer at Altria Group Inc., the tobacco company which has a 35% stake in JUUL. Speaking on his new post, he said, "I have long believed in a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose alternative products like JUUL."
'Must strive to work with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders'
Addressing the health crisis, Crosthwaite added, "Unfortunately, today that future is at risk due to unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence." He further said, "We must strive to work with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders, and earn the trust of the societies in which we operate. That includes inviting an open dialogue, listening to others and being responsive to their concerns."
E-cigarettes found to contain carcinogens; may cause DNA damage
Although experts have maintained that extensive research on JUUL and its impacts on health is yet to be conducted, several independent researches have found the presence of carcinogens in e-cigarettes which, coupled with the inherent risks of nicotine, poses a great threat. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had even stated that Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) can lead to DNA damage.
Earlier this month, India imposed a ban on e-cigarettes
Earlier this year, it was reported that JUUL Labs was looking forward to a launch in India. However, the company's plans were quashed prematurely as the Centre imposed a ban on production, manufacturing, import/export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertising related to e-cigarettes in September.