Earlier this week, an article on The New York Times reported that Juul Labs and Altria are in talks, and that if a deal is struck, Altria will get a chunk of the three-year-old company, which this summer was valued at approximately $16 billion.
Naturally, news of these discussions have attracted criticism from health entities. “The combination of Altria’s sordid history of spending billions to entice kids to smoke, and Juul’s breathtaking success at hooking a new generation of children on nicotine, could mark an historic setback for lifesaving tobacco control efforts,” said chief executive of the American Heart Association, Nancy Brown.
Big tobacco branching out into vaping
Involvement with “Big Tobacco”, would certainly also taint Juul’s image amongst the vaping community and harm reduction advocates alike. On the other hand, tobacco businesses like Altria are doing their utmost to gain credibility by making claims about wanting to fight smoking and branch out into the vaping industry, whilst still selling deadly cigarettes.
Last year, during a meeting organized by Altria for industry analysts and investors, the tobacco company had announced that it made a minority investment in Chesterfield County-based vape stores chain, Avail Vapor LLC.
On the same day, Altria had made another announcement, saying that following the FDA’s press release about plans to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes, the tobacco company has been proactive and devised ways of producing cigarettes that would be compliant with the new nicotine standards.