Health experts have mixed reactions to Juul’s removal of flavored e-cigarette products
Health professionals are having mixed reactions to Juul’s announcement that it would suspend the sales of its nontobacco and nonmenthol-based flavors.
Citing the “lack of trust in our industry,” Juul announced Oct. 17 that it removed the cucumber, creme, fruit and mango products from its website, which the company said was the only way its flavored vaping products could be purchased. The move came before the federal government had an opportunity to implement its plans to remove all nontobacco-flavored e-cigarette products from the market.
Michael Siegel, MD, MPH, has studied the tobacco industry for more than 2 decades. He told Healio Primary Care that Juul removed the nonflavored, nonmenthol products to “be as proactive and compliant as possible.”
Siegel, who is a professor in the department of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health, said Juul’s decision to suspend nontobacco, nonmenthol e-cigarette sales will only have a “marginal” impact on keeping underaged youth from using vaping devices.
“This action will likely help to some degree,” he said. “However, the mint and menthol flavors remain on the market, and these flavors are still popular among many minors. A lot of youth may switch over to menthol and mint flavors.”
Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, suggested that because Juul is keeping menthol- and mint-flavored products on the shelves, the company is not serious about preventing their use among youth.
“Juul deceptively claims it will only be selling menthol versions in the U.S. and never mentions that it has simply re-categorized the popular mint flavor as menthol,” Myers said in a statement. He added that nearly two-thirds of existing high school e-cigarette users smoke either mint or menthol flavors.
However, Andrew Hyland, PhD, chair of health behavior at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York, told Healio Primary Care that he was encouraged by Juul’s “remarkable” action.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction,” Hyland said. “I give Juul a lot of credit for being proactive to address the public health problem of our kids using e-cigarettes at unprecedented rates.”
Hyland, who is also the director of the New York State Smokers’ Quitline, said he hoped the other companies who sell flavored vaping devices would follow Juul’s lead.
“The precedent that Juul has taken ... is a way forward for other manufacturers to follow.” – by Janel Miller
FDA. FDA finalizes guidance for premarket tobacco product applications for electronic nicotine delivery systems as part of commitment to continuing a strong oversight of e-cigarettes. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-finalizes-guidance-premarket-tobacco-product-applications-electronic-nicotine-delivery-systems Accessed Oct. 21, 2019.
Disclosures: Siegel and Hyland report no relevant financial disclosures. Healio Primary Care could not confirm Myers’ relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.