CEO Kevin Burns announces decision to step down. K.C. Crosthwaite joins company as CEO effective immediately, bringing over two decades experience working with regulators and stakeholders, advancing alternative products to combustible cigarettes.
Company to restrict product-related advertising and will not lobby Administration on draft guidance.
JUUL Labs announced today that K.C. Crosthwaite will be joining the company as CEO effective immediately. The announcement from co-founders James Monsees, Adam Bowen and Kevin Burns follows Burns’ decision to step down.
Incoming CEO K.C. Crosthwaite brings over two decades of global operational, management, stakeholder and regulatory engagement experience. As Chief Growth Officer at Altria Group Inc., he oversaw the company’s expansion into alternatives to combustible cigarettes and played a key role in the commercial and regulatory efforts related to the U.S. launch of IQOS. He also served as an observer on JUUL Labs’ board of directors.
In his new role, Crosthwaite and the entire JUUL Labs leadership team will continue a broad review of the company’s practices and policies to ensure alignment with its aim of responsible leadership within the industry. Effective immediately, JUUL Labs announced the company is:
- Suspending all broadcast, print and digital product advertising in the U.S.
- Refraining from lobbying the Administration on its draft guidance and committing to fully support and comply with the final policy when effective
Commenting on the announcement, Crosthwaite said: “I have long believed in a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose alternative products like JUUL. That has been this company’s mission since it was founded, and it has taken great strides in that direction. Unfortunately, today that future is at risk due to unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence in our industry. Against that backdrop, we must strive to work with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders, and earn the trust of the societies in which we operate. That includes inviting an open dialogue, listening to others and being responsive to their concerns.”
Burns said: “Working at JUUL Labs has been an honor and I still believe the company’s mission of eliminating combustible cigarettes is vitally important. I am very proud of my team’s efforts to lead the industry toward much needed category-wide action to tackle underage usage of these products, which are intended for adult smokers only. Since joining JUUL Labs, I have worked non-stop, helping turn a small firm into a worldwide business, so a few weeks ago I decided that now was the right time for me to step down. I am grateful to be able to confidently hand the reins to someone with K.C.’s skill set, which is well-suited to the next phase of the company’s journey.”
Under Burns’ leadership, JUUL Labs helped provide an alternative to millions of adult smokers around the world and took aggressive actions to combat youth usage. Over the course of Burns’ tenure, JUUL Labs grew from a firm with fewer than 300 hundred employees operating in the U.S. to a company with thousands of employees and operations in 20 countries around the world. Burns implemented industry-leading manufacturing and quality control standards.
Burns also oversaw the implementation of industry-leading actions to combat underage use of vapor products. JUUL Labs has strongly advocated for Tobacco 21 (T21) laws, stopped the sale of non-tobacco and non-menthol-based flavored JUULpods to all of its traditional retail store partners, enhanced its online age verification, discontinued its U.S.-based Facebook and Instagram accounts and works to remove inappropriate social media content generated by others on those platforms. The company also intensified efforts to combat illegal and potentially dangerous counterfeit and compatible products. Most recently, JUUL Labs started deploying technology at retail stores that automatically restricts the sale of JUUL products until a government-issued ID is electronically scanned to verify age and ID validity, exceeding the standards in place for other tobacco products and alcohol.
Monsees and Bowen said: “Kevin transformed our start-up into a global business, and we are incredibly grateful for his commitment to and passion for our mission. K.C. has long understood the potential of alternatives to combustible cigarettes and the need to combat youth usage and we look forward to having him lead our team during this crucial phase.”