San Francisco-based e-cigarette company Juul dominates the vaping market, and more than 70 percent of all U.S. nicotine vape sales are of Juul products. But the feds are moving aggressively to smoke out Juul’s alleged marketing campaign to minors, as the Wall Street Journal reports U.S. Food and Drug Administration “conducted a surprise inspection” of Juul’s headquarters on Friday and confiscated “over a thousand pages of documents.”
In a statement to the website Gizmodo, the F.D.A. said that the Friday investigation “sought further documentation related to JUUL’s sales and marketing practices, among other things, and resulted in the collection of over a thousand pages of documents,” and that “The inspection followed the Agency’s request for information that we issued to JUUL Labs in April for documents that would help us to better understand the reportedly high rates of youth use and the youth appeal of JUUL products, including documents related to marketing and product design.”
Juul CEO Kevin Burns also responded to Gizmodo’s request for comment, referring to the siezing of docuemnts as simply “meetings.”
“We are committed to preventing underage use, and we want to engage with FDA, lawmakers, public health advocates and others to keep JUUL out of the hands of young people,” Burns’ statement said. “The meetings last week with FDA gave us the opportunity to provide information about our business from our marketing practices to our industry-leading online age-verification protocols to our youth prevention efforts. It was a constructive and transparent dialogue.
“We want to be part of the solution in preventing underage use, and we believe it will take industry and regulators working together to restrict youth access.”
The investigation was a follow-up on on the F.D.A.’s April request for Juul’s internal documents wherein the agency asked for proof that Juul was not developing certain flavors and features specifically designed to appeal to minors. Last month, the F.D.A. threatened to take Juul products off the market if they could not “provide [a] plan for mitigating youth sales within 60 days.” Juul has until No. 12 to comply with that demand.
Ironically, the stock prices of Juul’s three biggest competitors all went up on news of the surprise F.D.A. investigation.