On Thursday, JUUL Labs, the company at the center of a national uproar over vape use by young people and vape-connected illnesses and deaths, announced it would stop selling most of its flavored products.
A majority of these flavors—including mango, creme, fruit, and cucumber—haven't been in retail stores since last November, when JUUL stopped supplying them. They have, however, been available online. That is, until now.
"We must reset the vapor category by earning the trust of society and working cooperatively with regulators, policymakers, and stakeholders to combat underage use while providing an alternative to adult smokers," said K.C. Crosthwaite, JUUL's new CEO, and a former executive at Altria, the Big Tobacco producer that owns a fair portion of the vaping giant.
Tobacco and menthol–based flavors, it should be noted, will remain on sale.
This policy shift comes at a time of a significant reshuffling at JUUL. Last month, the vape powerhouse changed leadership (installing Crosthwaite), pledged to stay out of the federal government's way, and vowed to no longer advertise in any capacity. JUUL also bowed out of a battle in San Francisco, where a ballot initiative it backed was designed to overturn a total ban on vape sales in the city.
In all likelihood, the company was trying to position itself to gain FDA approval, which it lacked even as it gained massive market share since 2015. Meanwhile, starting this summer, dozens of people died and more than 1,000 become sick with a mysterious lung illness tied to vaping, adding to scrutiny of the manufacturer.
It's tough to say how much impact on use—by young people or otherwise—pulling these flavors might actually produce. After all, when JUUL ceased providing retail stores with what many considered to be kid-friendly flavors, mint remained on the shelves—and sales reportedly skyrocketed.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow Alex Norcia on Twitter.