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The company has stopped selling dessert- and fruit-flavoured vaping pods, pending a review from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company will keep selling mint, menthol and tobacco flavours. (Bloomberg)

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Talking point: The move partially preempts the FDA’s plan to ban all flavoured vaping liquids—regulations on which Juul promised not to lobby the Trump administration in September. Juul has previously made changes to its practices in advance of new rules. In November 2018, it pulled most flavoured pods from brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S. amid reports that the FDA was set to announce a similar requirement. In Canada, Nova Scotia and British Columbia are considering provincial bans on flavoured products. The federal Vaping Products Act, the country’s first vaping law, already prohibits the promotion of pods flavoured like desserts, candy, soft drinks or energy drinks. Lisa Hutniak, director of communications for Juul in Canada, said the company follows local regulations wherever it operates, and “believes flavoured products can play an important role in helping adult smokers move away from combustible cigarettes.”

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The new rules would limit nicotine concentrations in e-cigarettes to 20 milligrams per millilitre, restrict flavoured vaping sales to adult-only stores and raise the sales tax on vaping products from seven per cent to 20 per cent. If the legislation passes, the new tax would become effective on Jan. 1, 2020, with other regulations coming that April. (Vancouver Sun)

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Talking point: The regulations would make B.C. the first province or territory with a tax specifically on vape sales. The proposed changes echo a push in the U.S. for tougher regulations amid an uptick in youth vaping and growing number of vaping-related lung injuries—as of November 13, there had been a reported 2,172 cases in the country, including 42 deaths. While Canada has seen relatively few cases of the illness, health officials have called on emergency regulations to be placed on e-cigarettes rather than wait for clearer evidence of their safety, or for more people to get sick. Also on Friday, Apple said it would remove all 181 vaping-related apps from its App Store, citing warnings from health authorities.

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The move is part of an action plan issued Thursday by eight government bodies to quell the “distinct increase” in e-cigarette use among teens. Last week, the country also banned all online sales of vaping products. (Bloomberg)

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Talking point: China’s e-cigarette market grew from an estimated US$451 million in 2016 to US$718 million in 2018. Losing the country’s online market and limiting the convenience of vaping could stymie that growth. The announcement follows a ban on the production, import and sale of e-cigarettes in India, another significant growth market for the vaping industry. And on Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier introduced a bill to ban e-cigarette sales nationwide until the Food and Drug Administration completes pre-market reviews of the products. The threat of sweeping new regulations has rocked industry leader Juul, which lost US$14 billion in value after tobacco giant Altria wrote down its US$12.8-billion investment in the company by US$4.5 billion. The regulatory crackdown comes amid rising youth vaping rates and more people falling sick from a mysterious lung injury linked to vaping—as of Tuesday, 2,051 cases were reported, including 39 deaths.

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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.

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The company plans to cut between 10 and 15 per cent of its staff as part of a “necessary reset,” said CEO K.C. Crosthwaite. Juul, which is facing broad regulatory pressure, will also reduce its marketing budget and focus instead on “earning a license to operate in the U.S. and around the world,” said Crosthwaite. (Wall Street Journal)

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Talking point: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to enact regulations banning e-cigarette companies from selling certain flavoured products; they’ll also need to apply for FDA approval before selling their products in the U.S. Juul, the market leader, has tried getting ahead of the laws by pulling candy-, dessert- and fruit-flavoured “e-juice” and halting federal lobbying efforts against the FDA—a measure that could be hurting its growth in the short term. Health Canada is also reviewing its vaping regulations after a rise in vaping-related lung injuries in the U.S. So far, it’s business as usual for Juul in Canada, despite public health groups calling for an immediate ban on flavoured products, which accounted for about 80 per cent of the company’s sales this year.

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The prohibition was removed from a planned 2015 rule that gave the Food and Drug Administration oversight of e-cigarettes after the Obama administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB)—which assesses the economic impact of new regulations—consulted with more than 100 people over 46 days. That included 44 meetings with tobacco company lobbyists. (Los Angeles Times)

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Talking point: Cecilia Muñoz, a former White House official, said that at the time, the “science wasn’t clear” on the effects of flavours on youth vaping. Since flavours made up a significant portion of vaping sales it would be unfair to stop businesses from selling them, she said. But the final rule excluded 15 pages of supporting documentation on how flavors affected youth vaping rates. The FDA is once again planning a ban on flavoured vaping liquids, but this time President Donald Trump is backing the move. And while tobacco giant Altria opposed the rule in 2015, Juul, in which it made a major investment, has promised not to lobby the government this time.

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The patient, in their 50s, became severely ill after a few months using legal nicotine vaping products as a way to quit smoking.(CBC)

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Talking point: The unidentified patient isn’t the first in Canada to suffer health issues apparently related to vaping—last week, a London, Ont. teenager was put on life support after using a vaping device, and federal officials are investigating a handful of similar cases nationwide. However, the Quebec patient is the first to meet the official federal definition, which includes a list of symptoms combined with a history of vaping, a negative test on a lung infection and no plausible alternative diagnoses. The news comes amid a wave of regulatory panic over vaping devices in Canada and the U.S., where the official number of vaping-related illnesses has climbed to 805. A handful of U.S. legislators—including President Donald Trump—have called for sweeping bans; Massachusetts has issued a four-month ban on all vapes, and Rhode Island, Michigan and New York have banned most flavoured vaping products. In Canada, Nunavut is considering tightening its regulations. But anti-tobacco activists argue that imposing vaping bans while cigarettes remain legal could have a negative public health impact and bolster the underground vape market.

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A high-school-aged youth has been diagnosed with “severe respiratory illness,” and was on life support, but is now recovering, said Dr. Christopher Mackie, CEO of the health unit, in a press conference Wednesday. Mackie declined to specify the brand of the vape used and whether it contained cannabis. Seven deaths have been reported in the U.S., in cases mainly involving black-market vapes that contained THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. (The Logic, Gizmodo)

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Talking point: Health Canada issued a vaping warning two weeks ago amid reports of the U.S. cases, advising users to monitor themselves for symptoms of pulmonary illness, like coughing and shortness of breath. Canada legalized vaping in May 2018, and the usage of e-cigarettes among teens has risen by 74 per cent since then, according to a University of Waterloo study. Health Canada is currently considering new restrictions on advertising to curb youth vaping, including on social media and at checkout in stores. It’s also considering adding more flavours to its banned list, which currently includes confectionary, dessert, cannabis, soft drink and energy drink flavours. In the U.S., President Donald Trump has stepped into the regulatory process, ordering the Food and Drug Administration to ban all flavoured e-cigarettes.

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In a Monday letter to Juul, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said companies need to “demonstrate with scientific evidence” that their products are lower-risk or less harmful than regular tobacco products, and receive its approval, before marketing them as such. The FDA cited evidence from a July congressional hearing that a Juul representative told students the company’s products were “much safer than cigarettes,” and that the agency would soon announce that they were “99 per cent safer.” Juul has 15 business days to respond to the FDA’s letter. Lisa Hutniak, director of communications for Juul in Canada, said the company has not promoted its products by comparing the health effects to those of other tobacco products. Companies require Health Canada’s approval to do so under the Tobacco and Vaping Act. (The Logic)

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Talking point: In Canada, Juul has backed some government proposals for stronger promotion restrictions, while opposing others. It supports Health Canada’s plan to ban vaping ads on social media, but said a rule against displaying them at check-out in stores would prevent the company from offering adult smokers an alternative to cigarettes. Juul has quoted Health Canada as saying, “Vaping is less harmful than smoking” in many of its Canadian press releases. That statement is drawn from an information page about vaping on the department’s website. The company has also cited a review by Public Health England that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than tobacco. Hutniak said the company does not believe the legislation’s promotion provisions apply to those statements. “Health Canada has taken a clear position on vaping products being less harmful than cigarettes,” she said. “We believe it’s important for adult smokers to be made aware of Health Canada’s public position on vaping.” Health Canada did not respond to a request for comment. Juul has engaged with policymakers in both the U.S. and Canada on vaping rules. As The Logic reported in August, Juul has registered 19 lobbyists across the federal and provincial governments as officials consider new restrictions on advertising and labelling, and bans on flavoured products.