Briefing

Former Juul executive sues the vaping company for allegedly selling contaminated products

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Siddharth Breja, who was vice-president of global finance at Juul from May 2018 to March 2019, claims the company shipped a batch of about one million contaminated e-cigarettes in 2019, which he said it never issued a recall for or told customers about. Breja’s suit—which claims he was fired for whistleblowing and objecting to the company’s conduct—also alleges Juul sold pods that were almost a year old. Breja claims that when he advised then-CEO Kevin Burns against selling the old products, Burns replied, “Half our customers are drunk and vaping like mo-fos, who the fuck is going to notice the quality of our pods.” (The Logic)

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Talking point: This is another in a string of bad headlines for Juul. The company pulled much of its product in the U.S. earlier this month in anticipation of sweeping bans on flavoured vaping products. It also plans to lay off between 10 and 15 per cent of its workforce—about 500 people—to focus on regulatory compliance rather than marketing. Despite the popularity of Juul’s products—its products account for about 75 per cent of the U.S. e-cigarette market——it has largely avoided blame for the rise in vaping related illnesses in the U.S., with health officials pointing instead to THC-containing products and devices bought on the black market. But this suit calls into question the company’s quality control at a time when regulators are on high alert for what exactly is causing vapers to get sick.