Juul CEO Kevin Burns apologizes to parents amid teen vaping epidemic

Juul Labs CEO Kevin Burns said he would apologize to parents whose children are addicted to the company’s products as concern grows around the teen vaping epidemic.

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“First of all, I’d tell them that I’m sorry that their child’s using the product,” Burns told CNBC for the documentary, “Vaporized: America’s E-cigarette Addiction.”

“It’s not intended for them. I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them,” Burns added. “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.”

Burns joined Juul in 2017, about two years after the company launched its products. Juul’s products, which make up about 40 percent of the e-cigarette industry, was created to help adults quit smoking. The devices still give people their nicotine fix while eliminating the cigarette smell.

The company, however, has received a slew of criticism in recent months due to Juul’s popularity among teens. In June, San Francisco took a step to curb teen vaping addiction by banning the sales of e-cigarettes. Critics said Juul contributed to the vaping epidemic by promoting its products through advertising campaigns showing young models.

Adam Bowen, Juul co-founder, admitted the ads were “inappropriate.”

“When we launched Juul, we had a campaign that was arguably too kind of lifestyle-oriented, too flashy,” Bowen told 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.”

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Burns said there isn't enough data to show the impact of chronic vaping.

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