Juul Closes Deal with Tobacco Giant Altria

Altria is paying $12.8 billion to acquire a 35 percent stake of the popular vaping start-up. Public health advocates criticized the union.

Comments: 55

  1. Section 7 of the Clayton Act says: "No person engaged in commerce or in any activity affecting commerce shall acquire, directly or indirectly, the whole or any part of the stock or other share capital and no person subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission shall acquire the whole or any part of the assets of another person engaged also in commerce or in any activity affecting commerce, where in any line of commerce or in any activity affecting commerce in any section of the country, the effect of such acquisition may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly." Antitrust enforcers do your job. Stop this.

  2. But this is the "covfefe" regime we're talking about. Their assigned job is to break the law, not enforce it!

  3. Horrible, horrible companies, both Juul and Altria. How can these people sleep at night?

  4. The vapor of all the Juuls and dollars soothes them to sleep.

  5. @SR They have dreams of creating millions of new addicts every day (starting in elementary and Jr High). Nicotine is one of the MOST addictive substance in existence. Those who begin, loss their free will. Too be lost in the fog . . . . forever.

  6. Where are the ethics, responsibility, accountability, leadership for public health. As a healthcare provider the facts are known why is this allowed other than corporate greed?

  7. @Calleen de Oliveira No other reason - corporate greed and government is absent from the scene. Hard to believe this is allowed to happen.

  8. @Calleen de Oliveira You're right the facts are known. Vaping is a 90-95% reduction in harm caused by cigarettes.

  9. "they can move to rapidly expanding with a global orientation and funding the R&D necessary to disrupt ever more of the $800 billion global cigarette market.” Yes, I'm sure cigarette giant Philip Morris wants to kill its largest, most profitable, business. I'm sure that's why it just spent billions of dollars. Right.

  10. This useless, pernicious product needs to be regulated. I'd start with prohibiting sales to anyone under 25. If you turn 25 and you're still stupid and immature enough to use this product go ahead. If a few years we'll see you on TV with breathing tubes and a hole in your trachea telling people that you got that way courtesy of Juul. It's interesting that the world's largest cigarette maker is buying into this. Clearly, lowlifes feed on each other.

  11. @MIKEinNYC There is no data indicating that vaping is dangerous. The two primary ingredients, propylene glycol and glycerol, are completely harmless. Likewise, there is no evidence that nicotine at the levels inhaled have any bad effects.

  12. @Rob-Chemist Not dangerous, fine. Unless you consider addiction harmful. Who wants to suck on a USB stick for a mini-high?

  13. Alcoholism is a pretty big problem too. Let’s fix that one by banning alcohol as well. For that matter we know that added sugars are now probably the biggest killer in America so let’s ban all simple carbohydrates as well.

  14. Someone is positioning Altia to take over the marijuana vape pen market

  15. @Blackbeard It’s about time. They have the entire supply chain management. From farm to regulation. GOMO.

  16. @Blackbeard: I'm sure they've been planning to get into pot for years. Just google "is altria in the marijuana business" 10/10/18 CNBC: "Altria shares rallied Wednesday on a report that the Marlboro cigarette maker is in talks to buy a stake in Canadian marijuana company Aphria." 12/7/18 CNN: "Tobacco giant Altira is investing $1.8 billion in Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group."

  17. Philip Morris sees the writing on the wall -- tobacco use is plummeting, with only 3.5% of high school seniors smoking, down from 20% only a few years ago -- in part because teens are overwhelmingly choosing to vape instead. Juul, meanwhile, is under pressure from regulators, and needs the resources to fight. It's a logical step for both companies. Meanwhile, it is unrealistic to suppose that teens won't take up vaping in ever-increasing numbers, because scare stories in the press notwithstanding, studies have estimated that e cigarettes are 90-95% safer than regular cigarettes. And nicotine is both a highly pleasurable and highly addictive substance. But we don't know what the long-term effects of vaping will be, so it's important that we minimize teen uptake. Experience tells us that the most effective way to do that is with education and by banning promotion, but as usual, there are calls for prohibition instead -- and that is seldom effective. If we are to discourage kids from vaping, we will need to educate and convince them, not enact regulations that may make us feel good, but in the end have little practical effect. I mean, Brett Kavanaugh wasn't drinking soda.

  18. @Josh Hill I am curious about your statement that nicotine is highly addicting. Cigarettes are clearly very highly addicting with only about 10% of smokers able to quit cold turkey. However, all of the available evidence indicate that nicotine alone is very mildly addicting. This includes both animal and human studies. There is clear evidence showing that other compounds found in cigarette smoke make the nicotine highly addicting.

  19. Really? Because I can't find any reliable, published evidence that your claim is true. There are one or two tobacco additives that may theoretically increase the amount of nicotine liberated from tobacco, but it seems that the "addictive additives" theory is an urban myth, at best. If it were true, why would nicotine replacement therapy work?

  20. @PeteH The cause of the enhanced is not an addictive additive - you are absolutely correct that that is an urban myth. Part of the enhanced addictiveness, but my guess is probably not much, comes from the social aspect of smoking. A more likely cause, and my guess is that it is the primary cause, is the ability of certain compounds (presently unknown which) generated by smoking to inhibit the enzyme monoamine oxidase in our bodies. Smoking results in significant inhibition of this enzyme. Animal studies have shown that nicotine is only mildly addicting, much less so than opioids. However, if you now treat the animals with a compound that inhibits monoamine oxidase, the nicotine becomes as addictive as opioids! Clinical studies showing that nicotine by itself is less addictive than smoking come from smoking cessation studies. If nicotine alone were the cause of smokings addictiveness, then it should be easy to stop smoking - just replace the nicotine from smoking with nicotine from another source (patch, gum, etc.). However, this does not work - about 90% of people trying to quit cold turkey fail, while adding a nicotine supplement still results in about 84% failure to quit. A couple references include: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/25/38/8593.long (animal studies) https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000146.pub5/full (human studies)

  21. What a reader quote! : "It's interesting that the world's largest cigarette maker is buying into this. Clearly, lowlifes feed on each other." That's right, the "lowlifes" aka deplorables and expendables, STILL crave nicotine but have wisely adopted a harm-reduction strategy which excludes the more socially-unacceptable and dangerous act of smoking. We shouldn't be surprised but pleased, as anti-smoking campaigns have been wildly successful (Legacy, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Soc.). Translation: Rewrite the RWJF grant proposal for vaping.

  22. @Rocky Plinth It is to our everlasting shame that we tacitly support the addiction of our children to nicotine. I say 'tacit support' because the taxes on nicotine-carrying products are high enough to create some revenue, but nowhere near high enough to impede marketing. A $5/pack tax on cigarettes and their vaping equivalent would be a timid first step in the right direction.

  23. @Bob from Sperry can we put a $5 tax on things YOU like? Or would that be bad?

  24. @Rocky Plinth. This is nonsense. I know a dozen teenagers who vape who never smoked. Many of them simply CANNOT STOP. The overwhelming majority of people I know who use it aren't moving away from nicotine addiction, but towards it. The heartache it has created is unfathomable. But as long as there's money to be made...

  25. "Smoking ----> bad. Tech ----> good! Let's fix the smoking problem by combining it with technology . . . ." That our society allows Juul to operate, after knowing full well the effects of the traditional tobacco industry, is unconscionable. Silicon valley to the rescue!

  26. As an American High School student, I've seen up-close the effects of vaping in school- it really is an epidemic. Students sneak to the bathrooms between periods, and the boldest of them light up during class. It's not only disruptive (as you may have guessed) but just as addictive as the has FDA claimed. You haven't really experienced AP English until the guy sitting across from you has a tobacco fit. And with every student's need for a fix comes a willing supply of Juuls. Our city is largely free of crime, but my high school has a large and fairly sophisticated criminal underbelly. Dozens of kids have a network- and that's not overdramatized crap- of friends and uncles and greedy shop owners willing to sell them e-cigs. Then they're distributed throughout the school, through paid associates. It's a mini-mafia. Overall, it's had a negative impact on academics as well as athletics- students get kicked if they're caught with a vape- not to mention the health issues students will have later in life. It's a lose-lose-lose for everyone except Juul; and Altria.

  27. Please, explain to me why it is that - if you make a product that will kill your customers in 6 months - you will be stopped and put in jail...but if you sell a product that takes 30 years to kill your customers - your suppliers get agricultural price supports? The biggest difference that I can see between Altria and the Columbian drug cartels is that Altria's army consists of attorneys and lobbyists. Vaping was ALWAYS about nicotine delivery, and marketed to children as 'flavors'. (We had a teenager acquaintance ask for a ride to 'the flavor store'. We refused, and the last time we saw him, he was bragging that he had beat smoking and vaping by the use of nicotine gum and patches) Nicotine is a perfectly good insecticide and nerve poison that happens to be easy to produce, and is incredibly addicting. The fact that we provide the dealers thereof with the full suite of civil rights continues to astonish me.

  28. @Bob from Sperry At the levels generated by smoking or vaping, nicotine has no known negative health effects. Indeed, at these levels it may have positive health effects in terms of preventing Parkinson's disease and weight loss (clinical studies on Parkinson's disease are underway). At much higher levels, nicotine is certainly toxic but so are most compounds (Ex., Vitamin A, Vitamin D, oxygen, etc. are also very toxic at levels much higher than we normally intake). Also, as per my posts below, nicotine alone is not highly addicting. Cigarettes are horribly addicting, but not nicotine alone.

  29. Nicotine is THE most addictive substance routinely abused in the world. Your statement is 100% completely false. Ask any Vaper!!!!!

  30. The amount of hypocrisy by public scolds is rather amusing when it comes to lecturing about the evils of tobacco/tobacco-substitute use (not to mention legalized weed) -- and yet I don't see a complementary stance regarding prohibition when it comes to alcohol. There are significant health costs to society from both products but the self-righteous "ban the butt" crowd ought to take a look in the mirror before they cast the first stone when it comes to other people's preferred recreational drug delivery systems.

  31. I am surprised that Altria made such a material investment prior to JUUL settling its targeted teen marketing (future litigation) with the FDA and National Association of Attorneys General (States). I envision the FDA and States litigating with JUUL over its historic socially irresponsible youth marketing practices. While JUUL may have recently moved closer to the FDA's goal of discrete marketing to adults, it has captured 75% market share primarily by marketing its products at children. A settlement with JUUL similar to the "cigarette" Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) must be in the works and it may have such favorable terms to JUUL that Altria made the compelling business decision to buy JUUL. I don't understand why a company like JUUL should even be allowed to continue to operate when it is clear that the only reason it has been successful is a result of its egregious marketing of its products at children. How many of these children will now end up smoking cigarettes? At a minimum JUUL should be liable for treble damages based on the potential future lifetime revenues from adult cigarette smoker conversion of child JUUL consumers. For example, if JUUL has created 10 Million pack a day smokers at $10 per pack a day for 30 years - JUUL should be minimally liable for $1.095 Trillion. Yes Trillion! Just think about the Trillion dollars in future damages JUUL has done to our children - not including the medical and social costs that will now be borne by society.

  32. @Mark Singleton " I don't understand why a company like JUUL should even be allowed to continue to operate when it is clear that the only reason it has been successful is a result of its egregious marketing of its products at children." You state your opinion as if it were fact. Where is the evidence that JUUL only markets to children? Have you ever been on its website? It's filled with black and white pics of adults over 35. Why is JUUL ="allowed" to continue to operate? Because if all adult smokers switched to JUUL it would be greatest public health advance in the last 50 years. I smoked cigarettes for 20 years. Thanks to JUUL I quit cigarettes. The adults matter too.

  33. @Laura - Yes, it would be a great public health advance if all smokers switched to Juul. Regular cigarettes should no longer be produced, and Juuls should be available by prescription only (kind of like Methadone).

  34. @Mark Singleton The first step to solving any problem is finding the truth. Therefore you statements regarding targeted marketing, which are only opinion, do not further the pursuit of truth. The FDA went through Juul internal documents and found no evidence of targeting youth. Did Juul do enough to stop it? Absolutely not, and this must be addressed. There are a billion smokers in the world. Juul does not need teenage vaping. They need ways to stop youthful vaping and an open field to convert existing smokers. If they do, it will be the greatest boon to public health since antibiotics. When you see Juul coupons in packs of Marlboros, you'll begin to see how this happens. Assuming of course that you are seeking the truth.

  35. Anyone with open eyes can see that vaping (Juul products) is becoming a large public health problem. This product is hardly used by adults. It is almost exclusively used be teenagers (and pre-teens). One Juul pod has the equivalent nicotine of 10-20 cigarettes and it is designed to be better absorbed and provides a nicotine high. The Juul devices generally deliver "flavoring" chemicals of unknown toxicity. Nicotine is addictive and Juuls are highly addictive. There are more and more teens unable to quit this habit, to the detriment of their current functioning and the detriment of their futures. If you don't believe me, read the comments by high schoolers. Just go to almost any high school and see for yourselves. This should have been banned long ago and still should be banned. What does it say about our society that we let a clear harm thrive?

  36. @Sam With respect to absorption, nicotine from cigarettes appears to be much better absorbed than nicotine from vaping. If you look at the rate of absorption, nicotine from cigarettes is absorbed several times faster than nicotine from vaping. The maximal blood nicotine levels obtained with smoking are typically much higher than from vaping, but it is harder to draw firm conclusions from this data because of variables in breathing rate, etc. Finally, nicotine alone as found in vaping is not highly addictive, in contrast to cigarette smoking - see my comments below.

  37. As correctly noted already, Juul is almost exclusively used by teens and it IS highly addictive! My two sons tried to ditch it for over a year with no success, and so did a number if their friends! And they consciously tried! It really messes with your head! Juul is a text book example of corporate greed and should be banned!

  38. It is definitely used by adults. I am among them. I used it to quit smoking and it is the only thing that has worked without any adverse impacts in other areas (i.e. weight gain, loss of cognitive ability, etc.).

  39. How does a new technology like e-cigarettes get FDA approval when used as intended it destroys your health. Why not just ditch the FDA and let anyone sell anything to consumers. If the FDA can't protect Americans from this what is their purpose?

  40. @J. R. As far as I am aware, there is no evidence that e-cigarettes destroy your health. If there is any, I would certainly be interested in reading it. And, as I have noted below, nicotine alone is not highly addicting.

  41. Juul, like Altria, is a drug dealer. They don't care how many lives they ruin as long as it pays out for them. They represent all that's worst in American capitalism and humanity itself. I hope they get what they deserve.

  42. Nicotine addiction does not kill you. It does not cause cancer. Cigarettes deliver a host of cancer-causing chemicals. Vaping, none. The prime reason people conflate the two is because it looks like smoking. It isn't. The UK has done a long term study that sets aside the polemics and states the obvious: vaping is 95% safer than cigarettes. Sure it would be better not to do anything, but, relatively speaking, vaping offers a great alternative w/ few downsides: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/e-cigarettes-around-95-less-harmful-than-tobacco-estimates-landmark-review Cheers JM

  43. @Jonathan Meythaler I'm a part time cashier at a major American retailer, and we have low income customers who spend more on alcohol and cigarettes than food. This is definitely a downer, and it affects the quality of our culture and society.

  44. Well, here's more proof that corporations really are people - because the most evil ones are impossible to kill, by dint of their great wealth and influence. They just change shape. Lest we forget - slapped lightly on the wrist by the Big Tobacco settlement, Phillip Morris (now Altria) went on to acquire Miller Beer, Kraft Foods and General Mills. The racketeering case, filed in 1999 by the Clinton administration, sought to force the industry to fund a smoking cessation program and other remedies. Under the Bush administration, the U.S. Justice Department dropped demands from $280 billion to $14 billion. The Obama administration appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, which ruled in June 2011 that tobacco companies could not be forced to pay billions for stop-smoking programs. Instead, the industry was put under a kinder, gentler agency - the FDA. Altria lobbied successfully in getting out from under the DOJ - so that they could easily subvert an apparently ineffective FDA. And so it goes - on and on to where it ends in fat cat's pockets, our lungs, our pocketbooks and destruction of young lives. Congratulations to these scions of industry and their helpful marketeers. So happy they now have a new friend at the Supreme Court who really, really likes beer. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-tobacco-court/u-s-judge-declines-to-shut-tobacco-racketeering-case-idUSTRE75079R20110601

  45. Teen vaping is the next opioid crisis in the making.

  46. According to the article the 1500 employees would receive 2 billion in total bonus. That is around 1.3 million per employee. Can that be right?

  47. Big tobacco never went away just took a did a slight pivot and rebranded, a cigarette becomes an e cigarette and smoke becomes vapor

  48. Why? How? Money, of course. I bought one about a month ago, to replace burning tobacco. I'll see what the next step is. I've quite four times over several decades... "The company was able to reach and exceed the $10 billion valuation level, known as decacorn, just seven months after its first venture-capital raise, making it the fastest any company has ever reached that status, Yahoo Finance is reporting, citing data collected from venture-capital database Pitchbook. Juul was able to hit decacorn status four-times faster than Facebook, the previous record-holder, according to the report. Juul is currently valued at $15 billion." http://fortune.com/2018/10/10/juul-vaping-pen-valuation-vs-facebook/

  49. As one who has seen the addictive powers of vaping and cigarette smoking close up, it is very discouraging to see that at any time in our history, millions of Americans continue to ruin their health (physical and economic) with smoking and/or vaping. As much as I would like to see us put a huge tax increase on vaping or tobacco, it doesn't seem to make any difference. But I don't see any other way to discourage this habit. At least the money could be spent on the huge medical costs resulting from this epidemic.

  50. The reality is that people conflate vaping with smoking far too much. There is absolutely no compelling evidence that there are any long term adverse health effects from vaping of any kind. Nicotine is not inherently any worse for people than caffeine or alcohol and it seems as though society has come to terms with those (as it is coming to terms with cannabis), so I certainly hope that in the long term people lose this notion that “vaping is bad” because it is “like smoking”. Juul was forced into this alliance with Altria because of the FDA. The tobacco companies have done a great job convincing people that vaping and smoking are the same thing because they know they stand to lose billions from people switching away from combustible cigarettes as many people have done. This transition represents the single best possible health intervention possible for the millions of people around the world who still smoke, because the reason cigarettes are bad has nothing to do with the nicotine - it’s all of the combustion by-products and other chemicals present in smoke that destroy people’s health. I certainly hope this doesn’t wreck Juul but if this is what they have to do to survive good luck to them.

  51. Wow, this is hideous. Juul is instrumental in creating a new generation of nicotine addicts and it now has the power and ‘experience’ of the tobacco industry.

  52. Can’t quit JUUL is the operative word for big business. Horrible! How is it that JUUL can run radio ads? I heard one on the radio yesterday, and it hilariously said JUUL could help you stop smoking. Great one vice for another. False advertising?!

  53. Consolidation of the axis of evil.

  54. If Philip Morris (aka Altria) wants in on your business, it must mean that it is a growth (and addiction) industry. Juul and the FDA need to be taken to task for addicting millions of teenagers to nicotine. We need those Big Tobacco lawyers back in business to take this on.