Love Juul or hate it, you can probably appreciate why the e-cigarette company is frustrated.
It has grown like gangbusters since the first Juul vaporizer was introduced in 2015, leaving competitors — including traditional tobacco companies with their own e-cigarettes — gagging on its smoke. Yet now, a meaningful percentage of that business is being threatened by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who is so concerned about Juul’s soaring popularity with high school and middle school students that last week, he said he’s looking to have flavored e-cigs made available only in “age-restricted, in-person locations and, if sold online, under heightened practices for age verification.”
Even limited to selling more of its menthol-, tobacco- and mint-flavored nicotine cartridges, one imagines that Juul — which also sells mango, crème, cucumber and fruit-flavored e-liquids — will be just fine as a business concern.
As co-founder and CTO Adam Bowen recently told this editor of the opportunity facing his company: “We’re 75 percent of the e-cigarette market, which sounds like a lot, but we’re only 4 to 5 percent of the U.S. cigarette market . . .So we’re really just getting started here, and we’ve just scratched the surface outside of the U.S., where 95 percent of smokers live.”
Still, Juul clearly doesn’t want to take any chances. Just two months after filing a lawsuit aimed at stopping 30 entities in China from selling counterfeit Juul products on eBay, and a filing a separate complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC), claiming that 18 organizations are infringing on Juul’s many patents, Juul has filed a new patent-infringement complaint with the ITC and again, it’s looking to block sales of competing e-cigarette devices and nicotine cartridges made mostly in China.
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