Juul to cut up to 15 per cent of staff as backlash against vaping intensifies

E-cigarette maker says job cuts will allow it to focus on reducing underage e-cigarette use and investing in research 

Ben Chapman
Tuesday 29 October 2019 15:28
Experiment shows vaping is less harmful than smoking

Juul is to cut up to 15 per cent of its staff as it attempts to deal with a growing backlash against vaping.

The e-cigarette market leader has pulled back sharply from its plans for rapid growth after attracting close scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers wary of the health impacts of vaping, particularly among young people.

“To right-size the business, the workforce will be reduced between now and the end of the year,” Juul said.

Around 500 jobs could go, the Wall Street Journal reported. Juul did not confirm the figures.

Juul chief executive KC Crosthwaite, who took the helm last month, said the vaping industry was undergoing a “necessary reset”. A restructure would allow Juul to focus on reducing underage e-cigarette use, invest in research and earn operating licences around the world, Mr Crosthwaite said in a statement.

After ascending rapidly to dominance of the lucrative American vaping market, Juul is now facing attacks on several fronts.

Three US school districts filed a lawsuit against Juul earlier this month, accusing the company of endangering students and forcing educators to divert time and money to fight an epidemic of nicotine addiction.

Juul, which is part-owned by tobacco giant Altria, is accused of deliberately targeting children with flavoured e-cigarettes and colourful branding.

Last month a survey of more than 12,000 16 to 19-year-olds found that 83 per cent of respondents reported seeing vape adverts.

Juul has denied pushing its products on teens, but there is no doubt that the popularity of vaping has soared, prompting public health officials to take action.

In a bid to placate lawmakers, the company announced earlier this month that it had halted sales of most of its flavoured nicotine pods which are seen to be more appealing to young people.

But the move appears unlikely to be enough to avert a mandatory ban from the Trump administration and federal authorities.

“We want anything that’s attractive to kids to not be available for kids,” US health secretary Alex Azar said in response to Juul’s announcement.

Vaping has been linked to fatal lung disease, thought to be a form of viral pneumonia, but experts say it is likely this is caused by black market cannabis vaping materials rather than legitimately sold and tested e-cigarettes.

Most research has found vaping to be significantly safer than smoking, and use of e-cigarettes may help between 50,000 and 70,000 smokers in England quit every year.

Researchers from University College London (UCL) assessed the correlation between the use of e-cigarettes and the success rate of quitting smoking.

Recent figures from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), also show that the number of people vaping in the UK has reached an all-time high.

According to the UK charity, 3.6 million people in the UK currently use e-cigarettes, a rise of 12.5 per cent in one year.

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