Juul CEO to parents of children who vape: ‘I’m sorry’

Getty Images

Juul Labs CEO Kevin Burns apologized to parents of teenagers in a new documentary for the vaping “epidemic” that has hit high schools across the country.

“I’d tell [parents of teenagers] that I’m sorry that their child’s using the product,” Burns told CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla in the documentary “Vaporized: America’s E-cigarette Addiction,” which premiers Monday. CNBC shared the video ahead of the release. 

“It’s not intended for them. I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them,” Quintanilla continued. “As a parent of a 16-year-old, I’m sorry for them, and I have empathy for them, in terms of what the challenges they’re going through.”

{mosads} Burns added that vaping’s effect on Juul users is still not definitively known, even for minors using the product. E-cigarettes can contain cancer-causing chemicals, according to the CDC.

“Frankly, we don’t know today. We have not done the long-term, longitudinal clinical testing that we need to do,” Burns said.  

In a December 2018 advisory, Surgeon General Jerome Adams called vaping among U.S. teenagers “an epidemic.” Between 2011 and 2015, e-cigarette usage among middle and high school students increased 900 percent, and it increased 78 percent between 2017 and 2018, according to the advisory.

Juul Labs, the bestselling e-cigarette brand, pulled popular, sweet flavors like mango, cucumber and fruit from shelves last year in an effort to stem teenage vaping. It also shut down its Facebook and Instagram account after being accused by critics of marketing to teens, according to Reuters.  

Juul Co-founder Adam Bowen said the company’s initial ads, which featured bright colors and young models, were “inappropriate.”

“When we launched Juul, we had a campaign that was arguably too kind of lifestyle-oriented, too flashy,” Bowen said, according to CNBC. “It lasted less than six months. It was in the early days of the product introduction. We think it had no impact on sales.” 

JUUL Labs has purchased several full-page advertisements warning about the risks of youth vaping.

Tags e-cigarettes Juul vaping
See all Hill.TV See all Video