E-CIGARETTE giant Juul has pulled some of its flavored vape products from retail stores and vape shops, it has announced.
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Sales of the flavored pods which it deems the most appealing to young people will be only available on its own secure website - and restricted to consumers aged 21, through verification.
Strict measures will include consumers having to input their social security number to match records as well as verifying identity through a phone number and photo at checkout.
Flavors which have been pulled off shelves from over 90,000 retail stores across America include mango, fruit, crème and cucumber.
Juul has also announced plans to delete its social media channels including Facebook and Instagram, because of its potential draw for teens.
The news comes as the firm has been blamed for fueling a so-called “epidemic” of vaping among high schoolers and in a week when America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is poised to announce plans to ban sales of most flavored e-cigarettes in stores and gas stations nationwide.
New measures by the FDA are also expected to include setting up age-verification measures for online sales to stop minors buying flavored pods.
The FDA sales ban in grocery stores and gas stations is not expected to include menthol and tobacco flavors, reportedly because there are concerns that adult vapers could switch to their cigarette equivalents if they are not easily available.
In a statement posted on the Juul website on Tuesday, CEO Kevin Burns said: “We launched flavors like Mango, Fruit, Creme, and Cucumber as effective tools to help adult smokers switch from combustible cigarettes, and we do not sell flavors like Gummy Bear or Cotton Candy, which are clearly targeted to kids.
“However, we are sensitive to the concern articulated by FDA's Commissioner Gottlieb that “[f]lavors play an important role in driving the youth appeal,” and understand that products that appeal to adults also may appeal to youth.
“As of this morning, we stopped accepting retail orders for our Mango, Fruit, Creme, and Cucumber JUUL pods to the over 90,000 retail stores that sell our product, including traditional tobacco retailers (e.g., convenience stores) and specialty vape shops.”
FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb responded to Juul's announcement via Twitter with the comment: “We're deeply concerned about the epidemic of youth use of e-cigs. Voluntary action is no substitute for regulatory steps #FDA will soon take.
"But we want to recognize actions by JUUL today and urge all manufacturers to immediately implement steps to start reversing these trends."
The restricted sales of flavored pods by Juul does not apply to Canada, where they will remain in stores nationwide.
The new FDA law change, which is expected to have a “significant impact” on the vaping industry, has already been criticized by industry experts and public health groups who are concerned ex smokers who have successfully quit cigarettes thanks to vaping flavors, could return to their old habits if the products are harder to get hold of.