The rise and fall of Juul

How the e-cig of the future became a relic of the past.

Selina Lee

In 2018, Juul was everywhere from college campuses to middle school bathrooms.

So, unsurprisingly, Marlboro parent company Altria ponied up $12.8B that year for 35% of the e-cig pioneer and Silicon Valley jewel, notching it a $38B valuation.

But something else happened

Multiple outlets reported a Juul epidemic taking place in American schools, leading the FDA to take action, including:

  • Coordinating a massive effort prohibiting retailers from selling Juuls to minors.
  • Investigating Juul’s marketing to minors (e.g., its sweet-tooth flavors like mango and crème brûlée).

In June, the FDA banned Juul from selling its products in the US, and ordered the company to remove its existing lineup from the market.

Altria’s stake in Juul…

… has since plummeted 97% in value to $450m, per WSJ.

  • One silver lining: Altria can now likely scrap its noncompete agreement with Juul and bring its own e-cigs to market.

However that effort goes, it’s unlikely consumers will feel as strongly about its flavors as the Juul faithful.

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