16 April 2020 Arman Azad CNN
(CNN)Facing pressure from regulators over an epidemic of youth vaping, e-cigarette giant Juul announced in late 2018 that it would stop selling certain flavors in US stores, including “fruit” and “mango.”
But a new study from the American Cancer Society, looking at the critical months that followed, found that other flavors sold by Juul at the time — mint and menthol — quickly dominated the e-cigarette market.
Juul’s decision to remove some flavors from US stores, made voluntarily in November of 2018, did seem to affect the market at large. Fruit-flavored products, which made up 33% of total e-cigarette sales before Juul’s decision, dropped to just 9% of sales by April of the following year.
But sales of menthol and mint products surged, from 33% of the market in November to more than 62% of the market in April. And Juul captured all of that growth, according to the study, which looked at data from Nielsen, an analytics company.
The overall market for mint and menthol products, at least in retail channels tracked by Nielsen, grew over that period from about $95.5 million to a whopping $209.5 million per month.
Sales of tobacco-flavored products rose too, from around 17% of the market to 22% of the market. Juul captured 91% of that growth, according to the study, which was published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.
With federal regulation looming, Juul announced in November of 2019 that it would stop selling mint pods in the US, too. But the company continued to sell menthol products.
And while the US Food and Drug Administration essentially banned mint-flavored products a few months later, in January, the agency carved out an exception. Menthol products, which have hints of tobacco, could still be sold.
Alongside “Classic Tobacco” and “Virginia Tobacco,” Juul continues to sell their menthol pods today.