Vape giant JUUL has left the Vapor Technology Association citing major differences in policy.
Those policies include JUUL’s stance that certain e-liquid flavours should be banned from sale in the USA and its belief there should be a blanket 21 and over age limit on all vaping products.
JUUL says it will not be renewing its membership of the VTA later this month in a move that has surprised the wider vaping world.
It was only last week the VTA on behalf of its 800 members – and vapers across the country – filed a lawsuit challenging the FDA’s decision to bring forward the deadline for all vape companies to seek FDA authorization for all vape products.
I wrote a detailed piece on the lawsuit: The Fight To Save Vaping In America Has Begun.
The lawsuit hopes to stop or at least extend the deadline for submitting Pre-Market Tobacco Product Applications [PMTA]. This is the costly process vape companies will now need in order to be able to legally sell any vape product in the USA.
I say costly and it’s actually eye-wateringly expensive with each PMTA costing up to $460,000.
Obviously smaller companies will not even get close to affording a single PMTA, let alone one for each of their products which can be anything vape related from a drip tip to a coil.
JUUL Says They’re At Odds With Many VTA Policies
The VTA argues – rightly IMHO – the PMTA process will devastate the vape industry in America not only closing down businesses and subsequent job losses – but also risk the public health of the nation.
In a short statement, JUUL explained its reasoning behind the pullout:
We are fully committed to the current PMTA process and are confident in the content and quality of the materials we will submit with our application by May 2020.
We are not appealing the recent federal court case in the District of Maryland and similarly do not support the recent lawsuit against FDA filed by the Vapor Technology Association in the Eastern District of Kentucky.
While we have appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with the VTA, we will not renew our membership when it expires later this month as we are not aligned on too many critical policy issues.
For example, we support clean Tobacco 21 legislation and an outright ban on certain flavors.
JUUL Labs will continue to focus on combating youth usage of vapor products including JUUL while preserving the historic opportunity to switch adult smokers off of combustible cigarettes.
Things that make you go ummm…I’ll tackle the deeper issue as to why I think JUUL has left the VTA in a moment.
As to the VTA, as I said they were taken by surprise at JUUL’s move, especially as the company’s representative was present when the VTA board discussed the lawsuit.
A VTA spokesman said:
VTA is surprised by Juul’s stated opposition to the filing of VTA’s complaint against FDA because Juul recently opposed the efforts of the American Academy of Pediatrics to grossly accelerate the PMTA deadline in another lawsuit and sought similar relief in that federal lawsuit.
In addition, Juul’s designated VTA Board member participated in the VTA Board meeting held to consider the lawsuit against FDA, but never objected.
In fact, the vote to move forward with the lawsuit was unanimous.
Prior to the meeting, Juul had the relevant documents relating to VTA’s consideration of a potential lawsuit against FDA, but never objected or expressed opposition to the action.
Like I said, things that make you go ummm…
VTA Says Threat To Vaping In America Is VERY Real
The VTA has a membership that reads like a Who’s Who of the vaping industry with members including SMOK, Joyetech, Suorin and Innokin, says the association is ‘bigger’ than any one member adding:
We appreciate Juul’s past attempts to collaborate with VTA.
We recognize that some decisions made by VTA on behalf of the industry may not perfectly align with the interests of every one of our members. However, we believe our strength as a trade association is our diverse membership.
VTA is organized so that no single member, no matter how large, can dictate policy.
We put our decisions through a regimented process to make sure they are based on sound and strategic rationale.
We avoid taking reactionary positions based on transitional moments or the news of the day and remain focused on securing the long-term future of a diverse and well-regulated vapor industry.
Summing up its position on JUUL quitting, the VTA stresses the threat to vaping in America is a clear and present danger and is calling on all vape companies, big or small, to get involved in the fight:
As a reminder of what is at stake, the FDA recently warned that a precipitously accelerated PMTA deadline would lead to the “mass market exit of ENDS products” and cause adults who have quit to return to smoking – a “public health outcome which should be avoided if at all possible.”
VTA’s and Vapor Stockroom’s lawsuit against the FDA was filed to avoid that “mass market exit” about which FDA warned and to preserve the diverse and vibrant industry of companies dedicated to providing adult smokers an alternative to deadly cigarettes.
VTA stands by its decision to defend the interests of all vapor companies, and the thousands of small businesses in the U.S. that will be put out of business without the relief requested in our lawsuit.
You can’t argue with that…so why do I think JUUL has once again stabbed vaping in the back?
Greed: One Pod Kit To Rule Them All?
JUUL is it’s fair to say probably the most controversial vape company on the planet with many industry insiders detesting its practices.
I wrote an article last year: JUUL Capitulates As FDA Announces Clampdown On Flavoured E-Cigarettes.
In that piece, I argued the FDA’s threat to ban all flavoured e-liquids was the perfect time for the industry leader JUUL to make a stand on behalf of not only vape companies but the millions of American vapers.
In other words, it could have used its vast resources to fight the proposed ban, instead, it rolled over removing all its flavoured pods from convenience stores and removed itself from all social media.
Whilst I understand protecting a business and shareholders payouts is crucial, sometimes the bigger picture is far more important…
The company has had phenomenal growth since its arrival on the scene in 2015 and is now worth over $13billion. As of September last year, it had a remarkable 72% share of the US vaping market – a staggering position and I believe the company smells blood – PMTA blood.
Greed is the word that comes to mind.
Not satisfied with a 72% [and growing] share of the US market – and steady growth of vape sales globally, JUUL wants to dominate and if that means seeing other companies fold due to the costly PMTA process then so be it.
FDA Acting As JUUL’s Hit Man?
The FDA is actually doing JUUL’s hit job for it – they and maybe a handful of other companies can, of course, afford the PMTA process – which when the clouds clear, will see JUUL the last man standing so to speak, leaving the victor with the spoils.
Sure this is big business and it’s a cutthroat world, however by once again stepping away from the wider vaping industry with an eye on total domination, JUUL is betting one pod kit will rule them all.
Understandable in the wider scheme of things, but shameful none the less and it does leave a bad taste in the mouth, a bit like a couple of their pods…me bitchy? Naw 😉
BTW given JUUL is so in favour of the PMTA process and of course, has the resources to apply umpteen times until they may get approval, here’s a reminder what former FDA supremo Scott Gottlieb had to say on the matter:
Juul is in a hard spot to ever get their product approved.
They have so much historical youth use with their product. I don’t know how Juul gets through an application process.
Sometimes there’s safety in numbers…and it will be interesting to see if going it alone actually leaves JUUL looking for the same ‘friends’ they’ve turned their back on.
Find out more about the Vapor Technology Association and how you can get involved.
And of course: JUUL Review – Is This Pod System Worth All the Fuss?