Juul suspends brick-and-mortar sales, social media, but the worst is yet to come

It’s official. Juul pulls some flavored vapes from store shelves, shuts down its social media, plans to “attack” vendors selling their products with kid-friendly advertising, increases its age identification policies, AND MORE. What next?
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Juul suspends brick-and-mortar sales, social media, but the worst is yet to come

Rumors began circulating in both mainstream and social media last Friday that the nation’s top-selling vapor company Juul was planning to stop selling its products in retail stores.  On Tuesday, the rumors were substantiated by an action plan authored by CEO Kevin Burns and posted on the company website.  Effective immediately, certain Juul products will be pulled from the store shelves of some 90,000 brick-and-mortar establishments nationwide.

“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 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.”
 

Related Article:  FDA raids Juul offices; seizes thousands of documents on kid-friendly marketing

The flavored e-cigarette retailer also announced the elimination of its social media accounts.  However, Juul further claims that about 99 percent of all Juul related advertisements posted on social media comes from third-party vendors.  Therefore, in an effort to assist the FDA will teen vaping prevention, Juul states its commitment to policing these vendors’ marketing tactics and “attacking” or removing any suspiciously kid-appealing ads.

“We are attacking the presence of JUUL Labs on social media in two ways – eliminating our own social media accounts and continuing to monitor and remove inappropriate material from third-party accounts.”

Website sales will continue but with a stronger emphasis on age identification through a third-party vendor.  Potential customers must submit their name, date of birth, permanent address, as well as the last four digits of their social security number. 

But the changes don’t stop there.  Juul is also planning to build upon these age verification processes in the coming weeks to include two-factor authentication and photo identification requirements.

“By year’s end, our age verification system will include additional protections, such as two-factor authentication, which verifies a user’s identity through their phone number, and then requires a code sent to that phone to create an account. We will also add a real-time photo requirement to match a user’s face against an uploaded I.D.”

Juuls announcement comes in response to a series of FDA inquiries from this summer which seem to target Juul most specifically for poor marketing practices designed to entice underage consumers.  The FDA allegations are allegedly supported by new in-house data indicating a 70% rise in teen vaping in the past 12-months.  Coincidentally, Juul holds about 70 percent of the total market share in the United States. 

What does Juul’s move mean for the rest of the vaping industry?

As of the Tuesday press release, Juul is only banning the four key flavors of pods that seem to have drawn the immediate and unrelenting ire of the FDA:  Mango, Fruit, Creme, and Cucumber.  The vaping giant still plans to continue selling mint and menthol flavors in convenience stores and gas stations, perhaps so that their customers are less tempted to switch back to smoking conventional cigarettes.

Related Article:  JUUL joins Altria by stopping sales of fruity vapes in brick-and-mortar venues

However, menthol lovers – vaping, combustible smokers, or otherwise – may very soon be out of luck entirely.  Additional rumors are swirling online that the FDA plans to ban menthol tobacco products like Salem and Kool any day now.  And if menthol cigarettes and snuffs are prohibited by the FDA, the chances of menthol-flavored vapes also being included in the ban are almost certain.   

Another almost imminent change that vaping enthusiasts will probably be very soon be encountering is the demand for all online vape commerce sites to mimic the more advanced age verification processes of the Juul corporation.  If Juul is demanding the last four digits of social security numbers and photo identification, then the FDA might consider making this a new federal regulation, as well.

Any way you slice it, vaping in America is about to become a whole lot more difficult and infinitely more frustrating.   The temptation to transition back to smoking will be overwhelming for millions of vaping Americans.  Or was that the goal of the FDA all along?

Related Article:  Are FDA-required biometric vaporizers the next frontier in vaping?

from VAPES – VAPES News Blog http://bit.ly/2FpccIN

LA vape company developing new ‘MBFI’ device for boosted e-liquid flavor

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in the midst of a months-long series of targeted attacks against the vaping industry alleging illegal underage vape sales and kid-appealing marketing strategies.  But at least one vapor company refuses to be intimidated by bullying tactics and misinformation campaigns.  Los Angeles-based e-liquid manufacturer Hot Juice is finalizing the design of a new vapor technology that might be the next big thing to hit the vaping community.  If successful, heated e-liquid might become all the rage.

Hot Juice has named the new technology Micro-Bubble Flavor-Injection, or MBFI for short, and it hopes to address a common complaint of the vaping enthusiasts.  Some vape juices just don’t pack the powerful punch of pizzazz as advertised.    Hot Juice officials believe that the problem may lie in the fact that some e-juice brands simply cannot hold their flavor for too long because the flavorings essentially become separated from the propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin mixture over time.

Related Article:  The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah to Florida vapers: Amendment 9 designed to ‘BLEEP’ with you

But if the vaper “boils” the juice, the problem is solved.  In fact, the individual flavor profiles may increase by 30 percent or more on average.

“Increasing the flavor profile by 30% isn’t exactly an inexpensive business decision. This increases our cost per bottle significantly however our customer retention is through the roof and also our customer satisfaction is at 97% which makes it all worthwhile”

– Hot Juice CEO Jon Deak per an interview highlighted in Digital Journal

The drawback to Hot Juice’s business model is that the new MBFI technology will likely only be available for Hot Juice e-liquids.  Furthermore, the vapor company is said to be employing a similar business strategy like that of Juul where customers can only MBFI-vape prepackaged pod-like contraptions.  Different nicotine concentrations and varying PG/VG ratios will also be offered through an approximate 60 to 100 vape juice portfolio of tasty flavors that include cereal, dessert, and candy blends. 

But what about the possible FDA flavor ban? 

Reports started surfacing in the mainstream media last week that the FDA is planning to ban the sales of pod-like systems in brick-and-mortar venues.  Newspapers like the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal suggest that the ban could theoretically take place any day now.  Under the direction of Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the FDA has been actively implying that a ban on the sales of all flavored e-liquids – pod-style or not – may also be right around the corner.  Furthermore, Gottlieb has also been aggressively and persistently threatening to ban all online sales of all vaping products. Period.

So, what will this mean for heated e-liquid lovers and fans of Hot Juice’s MBFI devices?  Only time will tell, but Hot Juice executives are probably already very aware.  Canadian, Mexican, and other international vapers buy vaping products, too.  There’s always a loophole when it comes to federal regulation.

Related Article:  Colorado Governor signs executive order; doubles vape shop investigations

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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Vaping advocate Tony Abboud of VTA takes to CNBC to fight for adult vapers

During a recent interview on CNBC’s Power Lunch, the Executive Director of the Vapor Technology Association (VTA) Tony Abboud discusses rumors that the FDA may be banning the sales of flavored vape products within the coming days.  The ban will likely only target pod-like products purchased from local convenience stores, gas stations, and other brick-and-mortar establishments, for the time being. 

However, history has also shown that government regulation can be a very slippery slope.  Opening the door just a crack can lead to an onslaught of even stricter regulatory actions in the future.

Related Article:  Is FDA planning convenience store vape ban for next week?

In recent months, the FDA and its Commissioner Scott Gottlieb have been cranking up the anti-vaping rhetoric by classifying teen vaping as a national “epidemic.”  While Mr. Abboud makes clear that he does not endorse underage use of e-cigarettes, he also reminds CNBC viewers of what makes vaping so critically important and potentially life-saving for millions of adult smokers trying to quit.

 “We also have to keep in mind something really important which is bigger news this week which is that the CDC and the FDA announced that the adult smoking rates has again declined.  It is now at the lowest rate ever, down to 14 percent. It’s an historic low. And whatever policies that the FDA is considering, we have consistently said they have to keep the adult smoker squarely in the focus of whatever they do next…”

The reporter then asks Mr. Abboud if the vaping industry is claiming credit for these historic decreases in adult smoking rates across the United States.

“I think it is very hard to look at the data and suggest that e-cigarettes have nothing to do with the decline in cigarette smoking. The decline which has dropped now, they say, by 65 percent since 1965 is dramatic, but if you look actual rate of decline, it’s much more aggressive since the time that e-cigarettes have (risen) to prominence.  And I’m sure that there are other reasons why cigarette smoking continues to decline and education is one of them, but the reality is that you cannot ignore the fact that there is a rise in e-cigarette use and a corresponding decrease in cigarette smoking.”

Related Article:   FDA’s Gottlieb talks to Juul; promises ‘new action plan’ on vaping within days

CNBC’s Medical News Correspondent Dr. John Torres then joins the discussion which immediately takes a swift turn towards juuling specifically.  Much like many recent public statements made by FDA Chief Gottlieb himself, the controversy regarding Juul products lies predominately in its unique design that is particularly appealing to teenagers trying to hide their e-cig use.

“When Juul came out with this device – it’s a pod-like device that actually looks like a large USB stick and so it’s easy to hide.  It has that ‘cool factor’ that when you talk to high school students, they say, you know, it’s ubiquitous in my high school.  Children are using it all over the place.  Teenagers, they can hide it from their teachers.  They can hide it from other classmates.  And it’s one of those things that’s very easy for them to use.  They can even hide it from their parents.  And so it’s gotten that cool factor, and I think that’s why, at least at the teenage- those ages there – it took over the market…and it’s really proliferating the school systems.  And that’s one of the big concerns that the FDA has.“

Thankfully, the CNBC reporter veers the conversation towards a rather obvious point.  If the FDA is so concerned with flavored vapes, then why is the agency still allowing the sales of flavored combustible tobacco products to continue to be purchased from the very same brick-and-mortar retail outlets?  Mr. Abboud agrees that the inconsistency in FDA regulatory actions preferring one nicotine delivery system over another has the potential to produce some very serious unexpected consequences to public health.  The interview is posted for review on the CNBC YouTube channel.

To be clear, the basis for the rumors is stemming from recent articles posted by both CNBC and the Wall Street Journal.  Both articles reference unnamed sources for their information.  Neither organization is reporting a firm date for the possible FDA ban implementation, but a late November rollout date is anticipated. 

Related Article:  JUUL joins Altria by stopping sales of fruity vapes in brick-and-mortar venues

(Image courtesy of CNBC Power Lunch)

 

from VAPES – VAPES News Blog http://bit.ly/2qH0uPd

Vaping advocate Tony Abboud of VTA takes to CNBC to fight for adult vapers

Tony Aboud of VTA on CNBC:
(Adult smoking) is now at the lowest rate ever, down to 14 percent. It’s an historic low. And whatever policies that the FDA is considering, we have consistently said they have to keep the adult smoker squarely in the focus of whatever they do next…”
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Tony_abboud Vapor Technology Association #vaping #vapes #fda #vapeban #ecigs #juul #juuling #vape #eliquid #ejuice
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