The San Francisco-based company took the step days after new government research showed Juul to be the top brand among high schoolers who use e-cigarettes and that many prefer mint. The study by the University of Southern California showed that mint was the most popular flavor among Juul users in 10th and 12th grades, and the second-most popular flavor among middle-schoolers.
After halting mint sales, Juul only will sell menthol and tobacco flavors. Mint and menthol accounted for nearly 60 percent of the company’s retail sales in the past year, according to data compiled by Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog.
“If they really wanted to keep the kids away they would also get rid of menthol,” Meredith Berkman of Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes told the Associated Press. “We hope the administration will understand that too — they should be taking menthol off the market.”
Mint and menthol have often been treated interchangeably by vaping researchers. However, the USC study found that fewer than 6 percent of teenagers across all grades preferred menthol
Federal health officials are expected to soon release plans for removing most vaping flavors from the market, and Juul has said it will support and comply with that government policy.
In September, President Trump said his administration would look to ban all non-tobacco flavored e-cigarette products. Juul has already made a series of concessions to try and weather a crackdown from local, state and federal officials. It stopped selling popular fruit and dessert flavors in stores last year, and last month, stopped selling them online, too.
Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. In the latest government survey, 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month, despite federal law banning sales to those under 18.
In an update issued in late October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there were more than 1,600 cases of e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI). A specific compound or ingredient causing the injuries has not yet been identified.
E-cigarettes typically heat a solution that contains nicotine, which makes cigarettes and e-cigarettes addictive.
Juul is the best-selling e-cigarette brand in the U.S. The privately held company has been besieged by legal troubles, including multiple investigations by Congress, federal agencies and several state attorneys general. The company is also being sued by adults and underage Juul users who claim they became addicted to nicotine through the company’s products.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.