Kevin Burns is stepping down as CEO of embattled e-cigarette firm Juul as the company announced it is suspending its U.S. advertising and lobbying efforts amid mounting health concerns surrounding vaping.
- A statement by the company on Wednesday announced that Burns is stepping down effective immediately, and will be replaced by ex- Altria Senior Vice President, K.C. Crosthwaite.
- The company also announced it would stop advertising its products on broadcast, print and digital platforms in the U.S., and will also not lobby lawmakers on a draft bill to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.
- Juul added that it will commit to “fully support and comply with the final policy when effective.” It comes as nine people died and more than 500 people fell ill from a mysterious, pneumonia-like illness that has been linked to vaping products containing THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid.
- Co-founders James Monsees and Adam Bowen said Crosthwaite has “long understood the potential of alternatives to combustible cigarettes and the need to combat youth usage and we look forward to having him lead our team during this crucial phase.”
Crucial quote: Burns said in a statement: “Working at JUUL Labs has been an honor and I still believe the company’s mission of eliminating combustible cigarettes is vitally important. I am very proud of my team’s efforts to lead the industry toward much needed category-wide action to tackle underage usage of these products, which are intended for adult smokers only.
“Since joining JUUL Labs, I have worked non-stop, helping turn a small firm into a worldwide business, so a few weeks ago I decided that now was the right time for me to step down. I am grateful to be able to confidently hand the reins to someone with K.C.’s skill set, which is well-suited to the next phase of the company’s journey.”