A commitment by San Francisco-based Juul Labs to no longer promote its e-cigarettes in print, digital and TV advertisements applies only in the United States, not in Canada, a spokesman says.
Juul Labs Canada says in an email that Juul Labs is a global company and “this announcement impacts the U.S. only.” The company didn’t answer a question about how Juul markets its products in Canada.
On Wednesday, the largest e-cigarette maker in the U.S. also announced its CEO, Kevin Burns, will step down and pledged not to lobby against a sweeping ban on vaping flavours proposed by the Trump administration.
The decision marks the second time within a year that Juul’s U.S. and Canadian marketing policies have diverged. In November 2018, the company said it would continue to sell mango, fruit, and cucumber flavoured pods in Canadian retail outlets, despite no longer doing so south of the border because they might entice young people to use its products.
Juul would not explain why it seemingly sees a link between flavoured products and youth consumption in the States, but not Canada, beyond saying the two markets “are very different.”
Juul and hundreds of smaller e-cigarette companies are fighting for their survival as they face two public health debacles linked to vaping: a mysterious lung illness and rising use of e-cigarettes by teenagers.
Public health officials are investigating hundreds of cases of the breathing ailment but have not yet identified any one product or ingredient. At the same time, underage vaping has reached epidemic levels, according to top government health officials, with more than one in four high school students using e-cigarettes in the last month.
Juul entered the Canadian market in August 2018, vowing to help Canada’s five million adult smokers quit by providing an alternative to combustible cigarettes.
It said its Juul devices, USB docking stations and flavoured vaping liquids that contain nicotine would be available for purchase in convenience stores, vape shops and on its e-commerce site.
In July, Juul opened its first corporate store in Canada in Toronto. It opened its second in Edmonton two weeks ago.
Since 2018, Juul has tried to head off a crackdown in the U.S. with a series of voluntary steps, halting retail sales of several flavours and shutting down its social media presence.
The company now faces multiple investigations from Congress, several federal agencies and state attorneys general.
— With files from The Associated Press
The Canadian Press