E-cigarette maker JUUL faced surprise FDA inspection amid underage use concerns

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration seized hundreds of pages of documents from JUUL Labs last week during a surprise inspection of the e-cigarette manufacturer’s headquarters in San Francisco, the agency confirmed on Tuesday.

The seized documents were related to JUUL’s sales and marketing practices, the FDA said. Federal officials have stepped up efforts to prevent the sale of e-cigarettes to minors amid concerns about rising youth use of tobacco products.

“As part of FDA’s ongoing efforts to prevent youth use of tobacco products, particularly e-cigarettes, last week the agency conducted an unannounced on-site inspection of e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL Lab’s corporate headquarters,” the agency said in a statement. “Across this category, we are committed to taking all necessary actions, such as inspections and advancing new policies, to prevent a new generation of kids from becoming addicted to tobacco products.”

JUUL is the most prominent of several e-cigarette manufacturers in a vaping products market worth $4 billion or more annually, according to multiple reports. The company is said to own anywhere from a 50 percent to a 75 percent share of the market.

“We are committed to preventing underage use, and we want to engage with FDA, lawmakers, public health advocates and others to keep JUUL out of the hands of young people,” JUUL said in a statement. “The meetings last week with FDA gave us the opportunity to provide information about our business from our marketing practices to our industry-leading online age-verification protocols to our youth prevention efforts.”

CNBC was first to report the inspection.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned last month that the agency was considering a ban for online sales of e-cigarettes as one of several potential measures to curb teen use of the products. The agency is set to unveil additional statistics about teen usage, as well as its plan to combat youth addiction, later this year.