Unpacking Juul’s Decision to Remove Flavoured Products, Profits Over Public Health

Toronto, Ontario, Jan. 15, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) has been expressing its concerns to government since March 2019 surrounding the increase in youth uptake of nicotine e-liquid that resulted from the entrance of the vape product branches of big tobacco companies into non-age restricted retail locations. The data supports that youth uptake did not exist prior to this entrance of these big tobacco vape brands in mid-2018, such as Juul Labs Canada, which sell only products that feature higher nicotine levels then were ever previously available in the vape market. Juul’s decision today to remove their flavoured product offerings was clearly a play to increase their profits for shareholders and to remove competition from the marketplace, as any flavour bans would result in the closure of Canadian produced flavoured low nicotine e-liquid products.    Over the history of the vaping industry, tens of thousands of flavours have been introduced to the marketplace with little to no impact on youth uptake; the only significant social impact of vape products prior to 2018 was a corresponding reduction in smoking rates, both in Canada and internationally. It was only with the mass introduction of high nicotine products in non-age restricted retail locations, supported by aggressive marketing campaigns associated with big tobacco vape brands sold in these environments, that we have seen any significant impact on youth uptake. Juul’s closed pod-based systems have always been very limited in flavour selection but instead feature products with high nicotine levels, 59 mg/ml, 40.5 mg/ml and 17.4 mg/ml, which can produce a “nicotine buzz” – a key element in youth uptake or experimentation and nicotine addiction.  Prior to big tobacco’s entrance into this the market, vape vendors only sold nicotine e-liquid ranging in strength from 0 mg/ml to a maximum of 24 mg/ml, with sales predominantly in the 3 to 6 mg/ml strength. Unfortunately, despite the clear connection between high nicotine vape products and youth uptake, it is flavours that have been miss-cast as the major source of this issue. The European Union allows for thousands of flavour options for adult smokers, while limiting nicotine levels to 20 mg/ml, and under this regulation has seen no issue with youth uptake.  Instead, this approach has resulted in substantive reductions in smoking rates, as was seen in the pre-big tobacco vaping era here in Canada. This again substantiates that the increase in youth uptake is not related to flavouring, but to the lack of regulation surrounding high nicotine products, non-age-restricted access and aggressive marketing campaigns. Now that the Government of Canada has taken action to shut down the aggressive marketing campaigns by tobacco owned vape brands, Juul is removing flavours in an attempt to create the same big tobacco vape product monopoly that they have created through a similar announcement made last year in the United States.  By feeding into the misconception that flavours are the driver for youth uptake, they have been able to eliminate responsible adult only product vape shops from the market while ensuring their ability to continue selling high nicotine products. We again call on the Canadian Government to prohibit nicotine levels over 20 mg/ml to eradicate youth uptake.  It is essential that appropriate steps be taken to protect our youth, while maintaining the availability of these life saving products for adult smokers looking for a far less harmful alternative to combustible tobacco. The data clearly demonstrates that the availability of a variety of flavours is a key component in transiting millions of adult smokers globally to this far less harmful alternative to smoking.  Combustible tobacco companies have never before made decisions in the best interests of public health or society at large and their announcement today proves this once again.    About the Canadian Vaping Association The Canadian Vaping Association (canadianvapingassociation.org) is a registered national, not-for-profit organization, established as the voice for the burgeoning Canadian vaping industry. Founded in 2014, the CVA represents over 300 manufacturing, retail and online vaping businesses in Canada and has no tobacco companies, nor their affiliates, as part of their membership. The association is the primary liaison with the federal and provincial governments on all legislative and regulatory issues related to the industry. The primary goal of the CVA is to ensure that government regulation is reasonable and practical, through the strategy of professional proactive communication and education supplied bilingually to health officers, media, and elected officials.Darryl Tempest
The Canadian Vaping Association 6472741867
[email protected]

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