Sales of Eonsmoke’s Juul-compatible flavored nicotine pods have soared since Juul took many of its own flavors out of stores. Credit Credit Brittainy Newman/The New York Times
The purveyors of Strawberry Milk, Peach Madness and Froopy (tastes like Froot Loops) e-cigarette pods are having a very good year.
After Juul Labs, under pressure from the Food and Drug Administration, stopped selling most of its hugely popular flavored nicotine pods in stores last fall, upstart competitors swooped in to grab the shelf space. Trumpeting their own fruity and candy-flavored pods as compatible with Juul devices, they have seen their sales soar.
The proliferation of “Juul-alikes” is not only complicating Juul’s efforts to clean up its tarnished image, but also shows just how entrenched the youth vaping problem has become and that voluntary measures are unlikely to solve it.
When Juul agreed to discontinue store sales of its fruit and dessert flavors, it said it would continue selling them online and strengthen the age verification process on its website.
“If Juul’s voluntary actions were working, youths would not still be using their products at epidemic rates,” said Chris Bostic, deputy director for policy of Action on Smoking & Health. “We can’t rely on the companies alone to self-regulate. That’s where the government needs to step in.”
Exactly how willing the Trump administration is to step in is up in the air. In the last few weeks of his tenure at the F.D.A., the former commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a proposal requiring that stores sequester flavored e-cigarettes, except menthol, mint and tobacco, to areas off limits to minors. Retailers, among them convenience stores and gas stations, would be expected to verify the age of their customers.
But the details of the proposal were vague, and with Dr. Gottlieb’s departure, it’s unclear how federal policy might change, although Acting Commissioner Norman E. Sharpless has said he is working on finalizing the plan and supported Dr. Gottlieb’s e-cigarette crackdown.
Juul has filed numerous lawsuits, and complaints with the International Trade Commission, seeking to beat back the cheaper copycat devices and pods.
“If the box isn’t around, the parent would say it’s a Juul pod, but it’s not us,” said Matthew Hult, a Juul lawyer. “It injects confusion and tarnishes the Juul brand.”
The company is also targeting sellers of counterfeit vaping devices and pods sold under the Juul name, and training federal customs officials to catch them at ports of entry.
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Source:: Daily Times