Juul hires Altria executive to handle regulation amid vaping crisis

Juul Labs Inc on Tuesday hired the head of regulatory affairs at its part-owner Altria Group Inc to take on a similar role at the e-cigarette maker, amid a regulatory backlash against the growth of teen vaping in the United States.

Joe Murillo is the first big hire by Juul’s new chief executive officer, K.C. Crosthwaite, who himself moved over from Altria last week.

Altria owns a 35.5% stake in Juul, which last week said it would suspend all advertising in the United States where the Trump administration has announced plans to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from store shelves to rising popularity among teenagers.

In his new role, Murillo will help guide the applications that Juul must submit by May to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for any products it wants to keep on the market beyond that point, Crosthwaite said in an emailed statement.

“The company is fully committed to supporting and complying with FDA’s final effective flavor policy and to working through the PMTA (premarket tobacco product application) process – a process Joe understands well and one he will help lead JUUL Labs through,” Crosthwaite said.

“We invite an open dialogue, will listen to others and will be responsive to their concerns,” he added.

The FDA last month warned the company about marketing its products as safer than traditional cigarettes and requested more documents and information within 30 days.

Flavored e-cigarettes represent 80% of Juul’s sales. The company’s had dropped to about $25 billion, from $38 billion when Altria invested in it, according to Morgan Stanley.

Federal prosecutors in California are conducting a criminal probe into Juul, The Wall Street Journal reported last month, though it said the focus of the probe was unclear.