Juul CEO Kevin Burns steps down, tobacco exec takes over

Juul Labs CEO Kevin Burns resigned on Wednesday, effective immediately. He will be replaced by K.C. Crosthwaite, an executive at Altria Group, which owns a 35 percent stake in the e-cigarette maker.

“Working at JUUL Labs has been an honor and I still believe the company's mission of eliminating combustible cigarettes is vitally important,” Burns said in a press release.

Juul also announced it is suspending all broadcast, print and digital product advertising in the U.S. The company will also refrain from lobbying the Trump administration on its draft guidance and fully comply with the policy when it becomes effective.

Burns’ resignation comes two weeks after the administration moved to ban flavored e-cigarettes from the market. The White House has blamed flavored e-cigarettes for the “surging” use of the products among teens and young adults. A recent study found nearly one in 10 eighth graders vape.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday banned the sale of all e-cigarette products for four months after more than 500 people across the U.S. have been diagnosed with vaping-related lung issues.

“We’re declaring this public health emergency because medical and disease control experts have been tracking the rapidly increasing number of vaping related illnesses that in some cases have led to death,” Baker said at a press conference. “We as a commonwealth need to pause sales in order for our medical experts to collect more information about what is driving these life-threatening vaping-related illnesses.”

The ban in Massachusetts came a day after federal prosecutors in California reportedly launched a criminal probe into Juul, which declined to comment to FOX Business.

Additonally, the Food & Drug Administration has asked the public to submit incidents that may show a connection between vaping and seizures.

Also Wednesday, Altria and Philip Morris ended their merger talks. The two companies have been looking for ways to diversify their businesses away from relying on cigarettes. Altria, which spun off Philip Morris in March 2008, sells cigarettes in the U.S. while Philip Morris is focused overseas.