Juul is shutting down broadcast, print and digital advertising and ending lobbying efforts on behalf of the e-cigarette in Washington as safety concerns intensify. The company on Wednesday said its CEO was stepping down and will be replaced by a senior executive from Altria, the maker of Marlboro. Altria took a 35% stake in Juul in December at a cost of $13 billion.
Also on Wednesday, Altria and Philip Morris announced that they are calling off merger talks. Juul has long pushed its e-cigarettes as an alternative for adults looking to wean themselves tobacco products. But e-cigarettes have become popular among teenagers, and illnesses potentially liked to the product are on the rise.
On Tuesday the governor of Massachusetts declared a public health emergency and ordered a four-month ban on the sale of vaping products in the state, apparently the first action of its kind in the nation. As of Tuesday, 61 cases of potential cases of lung disease related to the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping in Massachusetts had been reported to the state.
Three confirmed cases and two probable Massachusetts cases of vaping-associated pulmonary disease have been reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Altria Group Inc. said that K.C. Crosthwaite will become JUUL’s new CEO, replacing Kevin Burns. Crosthwaite served as Altria’s chief growth officer.
Altria and Philip Morris said last month that they were in discussions to become a single company, more than a decade after splitting into two as lawsuits mounted.
Altria has exclusively sold Marlboro cigarettes and other tobacco brands in the U.S., while Philip Morris has handled international sales. Philip Morris International Inc. CEO André Calantzopoulos said Wednesday that the companies will instead focus on launching IQOS in the U.S. IQOS is a heat-not-burn cigarette alternative made by Philip Morris.
It was Crosthwaite, who will take over Juul, who headed the development of IQOS. Altria’s stock climbed 3.5% before the market opened, while shares of Philip Morris jumped 7.7%.