Juul CEO super ‘sorry’ he got your teens addicted to fat clouds

Not good.
Image: AleksandrYu / getty

Look parents, he’s sorry. 

Juul CEO Kevin Burns made that much very clear during a CNBC interview, set to air Monday, in which he expressed remorse that all your kids are addicted to blowing fat clouds with the popular e-cigarette. The San Francisco-based company has taken heat from the FDA for a surge in underage use, and its CEO apparently thought it best that he let everyone know he’s paying attention.  

“First of all, I’d tell [parents] that I’m sorry that their child’s using the product,” Burns reportedly tells interviewer Carl Quintanilla. “It’s not intended for them. I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them.”

It is that latter point — referencing allegations the company marketed to teens with social media posts and flavored vape pods — that likely has Burns squirming. 

“As a parent of a 16-year-old,” he continued in the interview, “I’m sorry for them, and I have empathy for them, in terms of what the challenges they’re going through.”

Vaping.

Image: Justin Sullivan / getty

The documented rise in teen vaping comes at a time when Juul is rolling in cash. The vape manufacturer received a $12.8 billion investment from Philip Morris parent company Altria in 2018, and subsequently handed out sizable bonuses to its employees.  

But the public opinion of Juul, which positions itself as a smoking alternative for adults who no longer want to use traditional cigarettes, isn’t reflected in the company’s overflowing coffers. San Francisco local government recently moved to ban sales of e-cigarettes in the city, and officials have directly targeted Juul. 

Which brings us back to CEO Kevin Burns. He’s very, very sorry about all of this. He promises. 

Return to top of page