Juul’s owner is so awfully sorry

Juul CEO Kevin Burns

This happened a while ago, but I’m just now getting to it. I really got a kick out of it. And it pissed me off.

The owner of Juul actually apologized for the role his company played in helping to popularize e-cig use by teenagers.

It totally came off like an old Monty Python bit … “I’m so sorry, so awfully sorry I murdered all those people …  Gosh, I’m sorry …”

Yeah, he’s sorry he’s a billionaire, too, I’m sure.

From a USA today article:

“First of all, I’d tell them that I’m sorry that their child’s using the product,” said Kevin Burns, who joined Juul in late 2017. “It’s not intended for them. I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them. 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.”

Oh, baloney, Kevin Burns, especially his bullshit about “I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them.”

Teen girl using a Juul

Juul was one of the vaping companies that most aggressively and successfully used social media to advertise its products, including Instragram “influencers.” Jull very quickly came to dominate the e-cig industry, gaining control of over 70 percent of the industry. This guy Burns is so full of it. He apologized because he got called to testify before congress and because lawsuits are piling up against Juul over addicting kids to nicotine (it turns out Juul pods are considerably more powerful with higher amounts of nicotine than other e-cig companies). This really takes the cake as one of the phoniest “apologies” I’ve ever seen. The L.A. Times even wrote an op-ed piece called, “Let’s call it a Juuling epidemic.”

From the USA Today article:

Yet Juul’s critics point to the company’s initial advertising campaign, which featured bright colors and young looking models, as evidence that Juul fueled the surge in teen vaping. Co-founder Adam Bowen said in retrospect the ads were “inappropriate.”

“When we launched Juul, we had a campaign that was arguably too kind of lifestyle-oriented, too flashy,” he said. “It lasted less than six months. It was in the early days of the product introduction. We think it had no impact on sales.”

The Campaign for Smokefree Kids thought the same of Burns’ apology as I did.

From their press release:

Once again, Juul is following the tobacco industry’s playbook: Proclaim loudly that they don’t want kids to use their product, while never admitting that their marketing targeted and attracted kids. Like its partner Altria, Juul still refuses to admit that the company’s marketing targeted kids or has played a major role in youth use of its e-cigarettes – despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

This is a deceptive, self-serving gesture by Juul given their complete refusal to take responsibility for creating the youth e-cigarette epidemic. It is a blatant attempt to deflect attention from the company’s wrongdoing while it opposes meaningful government regulation to prevent it from continuing to addict kids. There can be no doubt about Juul’s role in the current youth epidemic: It marketed a sleek, cool, high-tech product that comes in sweet flavors that appeal to kids, delivers a massive dose of nicotine that can quickly hook kids and was launched with social media marketing that a Stanford study found was patently youth-oriented.

This is one more example that Juul is more interested in repairing its image and expanding its sales than preventing youth use. Juul is following the tobacco industry’s playbook to the letter: Addict kids, deny responsibility for doing so, run slick PR campaigns to fool policy makers and the public, and fight real solutions to the problem.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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