JAKARTA, Indonesia—JUUL Labs is suspending sales in Indonesia indefinitely, according to Reuters.com. The company is concerned that retailers are selling its high-nicotine e-cigarettes to young people in a largely unregulated tobacco market.
The decision to stop serving the world’s fourth most populous nation is a setback for JUUL, which had planned to expand in that market. The region is considered important to the company’s growth, especially amid mounting U.S. legal and regulatory concerns in the face of the nation’s youth vaping epidemic.
A JUUL spokesman said the company only wants adult smokers to use its products. The Indonesian pullout follows JUUL’s announcement last month that it was reviewing operations in South Korea, where it has faced regulatory scrutiny and disappointing sales. Now, the company said it is taking a “methodical approach” in reviewing all overseas operations on a country-by-country basis.
In Asia, JUUL still sells the fruit- and dessert-flavored nicotine “pods” that were voluntarily pulled from U.S. stores. In Indonesia, JUUL marketed its products in movie theaters and malls, with some JUUL-branded shops having the look and appeal of Apple stores. As recently as last month, JUUL was installing kiosks in Jakarta office buildings and placing ads for JUUL flavors in office elevators, Reuters said. Prior to a Jakarta screening of the movie “Charlie’s Angels” in November, audience members saw an ad for JUUL e-cigarettes, which were promoted as “odor-free, tar-free, mess-free.”
The countries of Indonesia and the Philippines have permitted the online sale of JUUL devices and pods with no age verification, according to Reuters. JUUL said it did not authorize any sales without verification and has a team that works to remove unauthorized online listings.
Meanwhile in the U.S., JUUL plans to present a new version of its vaporizer to federal regulators, reports the Wall Street Journal. The vaporizer is designed to unlock only for users who are at least 21 years old, according to people familiar with the merchandise.
The next-generation device is part of an application that the company must file to keep selling products in the U.S. market. By May, the company plans to submit more than 250,000 pages of documentation to the Food and Drug Administration. This includes scientific research, marketing materials and an update on its efforts to curb illegal sales to minors, according to a JUUL official. Beyond that, JUUL is laying the groundwork for additional submissions over the next three to five years, including an application to market its products as less harmful than cigarettes, the official said.