Juul CEO Says Lung Illnesses Tied to Vaping Are 'Worrisome' but Has No Plans to Remove Product
The Centers for Disease Control is currently investigating nearly 200 cases of severe respiratory illness linked to vaping
With reports coming in of people hospitalized for severe respiratory illnesses — and in one case, a death — related to vaping, Juul CEO Kevin Burns said the incidents are “worrisome,” but that he and the company have no plans to remove their e-cigarettes from the market.
Speaking to CBS This Morning, Burns said that they are working with the Centers for Disease Control as the government agency begins investigating the nearly 200 reported cases of breathing problems linked to vaping.
He said the reports are “worrisome for the category; worrisome for us, if we contributed to it,” but that he needs more information before making any changes to the Juul products.
“CDC is leading the investigations; we’re obviously in close contact with them. They’re in charge of the investigation, we like to get all the specifics that we can,” he said. “We want to make sure that we have access to all the information so if there’s any issue that was associated with us, we want to get to the root cause to understand that.”
Asked why Juul would not pause selling their e-cigarettes, Burns said he does not yet know if they are at fault for the lung illnesses, and he believes the issues are mostly due to vape pens with THC, a compound in marijuana.
“I don’t know if it’s tied to vaping or even associated with nicotine products — most of the early reports have indicated it’s related to THC, so,” he said.
CBS This Morning co-host Tony Dokoupil interjected to say that “most” may not be an accurate descriptor, and Burns said that they need more information in all cases.
“Most of [the reports] that have any specifics have said they’re related to THC — we don’t have the details related to all those reports,” Burns said. “If there was any indication that there was an adverse health problem related to our product, I think we’d take very swift actions associated with it.”
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Burns affirmed to Dokoupil that he feels “confident” in confident in continuing to sell Juul’s products during the investigations.
“At this point, until we see some facts — and the CDC is leading the investigation — yes we do,” he said.
An Illinois resident who had recently vaped died of a severe respiratory illness in the last week, according to the state’s Department of Public Health. The resident was one of over 20 cases of vaping-related illnesses under investigation in Illinois, and the CDC announced Friday that they are looking into 193 cases across 16 states that occurred in the last two months.