Juul, the San Francisco–based company that made vaping popular in the last few years, announced on Wednesday that it would stop all broadcast, print, and digital advertising of its products in the United States.
The company's announcement comes amid an influx of vaping-related lung illnesses and deaths across the US. Juul has come under severe criticism for its marketing practices, which critics say target young adults.
As a part of this policy change, Juul will also end its “Make the Switch” campaign, which portrays e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes and which has come under criticism from the FDA, according to the New York Times.
A spokesperson for Juul did not immediately respond to a request for further comment from BuzzFeed News.
In addition, the company announced that it would not fight the Trump administration’s proposed ban on flavored e-cigarettes and would comply with whatever policy the government agrees to.
As part of the changes announced Wednesday, Juul CEO Kevin Burns stepped down and was replaced by K.C. Crosthwaite, the current chief growth officer of tobacco giant Altria, which owns a 35% stake in Juul.
“I have long believed in a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose alternative products like JUUL,” Crosthwaite said in Juul’s statement. “Unfortunately, today that future is at risk due to unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence in our industry. Against that backdrop, we must strive to work with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders, and earn the trust of the societies in which we operate. That includes inviting an open dialogue, listening to others and being responsive to their concerns.”
Juul has been under fire both in the US and around the world for deceptive marketing practices and getting people addicted to e-cigarettes. New York and Michigan recently banned flavored vape products after nine people died and hundreds more fell sick in a nationwide outbreak of lung illnesses linked directly to vaping.
The governor of Massachusetts declared a public health emergency and banned all vaping products in the state for four months. Just last week, India, home to more than 106 million smokers and the second-largest tobacco market in the world, banned vapes entirely, imposing jail terms and steep fines for anyone who made or sold e-cigarettes in the country.