The top of the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration is looking Altria and Juul to satisfy in Washington to debate their tie-up and the way it impacts the businesses’ plans to fight teen vaping. Earlier this yr, Altria href=”https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/20/juul-labs-gets-12-8-billion-investment-from-marlboro-maker-altria-group/”>invested $12.eight billion funding in Juul.
“After Altria’s acquisition of a 35 p.c possession curiosity in JUUL Labs, Inc., your newly introduced plans with JUUL contradict the commitments you made to the FDA,” Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote in a strongly worded letter addressed to Altria chairman and chief govt, Howard A. Willard III.
“When we meet, Altria should be prepared to explain how this acquisition affects the full range of representations you made to the FDA and the public regarding your plans to stop marketing e-cigarettes and to address the crisis of youth use of e-cigarettes,” Gottlieb wrote.
The commissioner despatched a equally worded message to Juul’s chief govt, Kevin Burns.
As a part of that deal, Juul is gaining access to Altria’s retail shelf area; the corporate is sending out direct communications pitching Juul to grownup people who smoke by cigarette pack inserts and mailings to the corporate’s database of consumers; and the 2 will mix the ability of their respective gross sales and distribution backend which reaches roughly 230,000 retailers throughout America.
The current deal comes solely months after Juul launched its plan to fight teen vaping — one thing the FDA had required of the corporate.
Within the commitments it made final yr, the vape producer and retailer stated it could develop its secret shopper program to verify underage patrons weren’t gaining access to its merchandise; pull its campaigns from social media; and restrict gross sales of non-traditional cigarette flavors (menthol, mint, Virginia tobacco, and “classic” tobacco) to the corporate’s web site — which requires age verification.
Gottlieb isn’t the one one who has an issue with Juul. We’ve written about how the corporate has lowered the barrier to entry for nicotine dependancy.
For Gottlieb, the addition of Altria’s advertising and marketing firepower and community of 230,000 retail places seemingly isn’t an indicator of an organization that’s keen to winnow down entry to its merchandise.
“I am aware of deeply concerning data showing that youth use of JUUL represents a significant proportion of the overall use of e-cigarette products by children. I have no reason to believe these youth patterns of use are abating in the near term, and they certainly do not appear to be reversing,” Gottlieb wrote. “Manufacturers have an independent responsibility to take action to address the epidemic of youth use of their products. My office will contact you to arrange a meeting to discuss these issues. Pursuant to your request, we intend to schedule this as a joint meeting with both Altria and JUUL.”