The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reportedly plans to remove one of the most popular brands of vaping products from the market.
The FDA could force Juul Labs Inc., the largest e-cigarette manufacturer in the U.S., to stop selling its products as early as this week, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the decision.
Juul Labs has been under review by the FDA since 2020, after the company applied to continue selling e-cigarette products in the U.S.
The FDA’s review of Juul is part of the agency’s larger overhaul efforts to review vaping products in an effort to analyze whether they are a threat to public health. The review comes in response to public concern that they are not being regulated as strictly as other tobacco products.
The FDA was also responding to claims that Juul’s nicotine products, which were marketed with fruity flavors and celebrity endorsements, were targeting teenagers and causing an uptick in underage tobacco use, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The FDA is reviewing all major e-cigarette companies’ applications in 2021 and 2022 on whether their products could get tobacco users to quit and if the benefits outweigh the health consequences for new users, including teenagers.
E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among students in the U.S.
A March study by the FDA on tobacco usage found that more than 2 million U.S. middle and high school students consumed tobacco products monthly in 2021.
In 2019, the FDA’s criminal investigations unit launched a probe into e-cigarette companies after the products were linked to a nationwide outbreak of lung illnesses connected to vaping products.
The outbreak resulted in at least 530 illnesses and seven deaths, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in September 2019.
Former Juul CEO Kevin Burns stepped down that same year after facing harsh criticism from those who were concerned the products were dangerous.
Juul also slashed its marketing efforts, shut down its Facebook and Instagram pages, and ceased using fruit-flavored cartridges in 2019 as a show of goodwill toward the FDA and public health concerns.
Stock shares of the tobacco company Altria, which manufactures Marlboro cigarettes and owns a 35% stake in Juul, fell 8% after the announcement, according to The Guardian.
HuffPost reached out to the FDA for more information but did not hear back in time for publication.