Is the Juul Craze Over?

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Is the Juul craze officially over? Majority owner Altria Group  (MO) - Get Altria Group Inc Report certainly seems to think so. 

The tobacco giant on Thursday announced it is writing down another $4.1 billion of its investment in the e-cigarette maker, bringing its total write-down to over $9 billion since October. It paid $12.8 billion for a 35% cash stake in Juul in 2018.

The company has certainly had its shares of headaches, with ongoing regulatory and medical scrutiny of the e-cigarette market, specifically whether it intentionally marketed its smokeless smoking device to teens, and more generally whether its products cause respiratory and other health problems.

Juul since then has been buffeted by lawsuits, bans on its products and investigations into its marketing practices. Blamed for a surge in underage vaping, Juul has pulled most of its flavors from the U.S. market and scaled back its international expansion.

The question now is whether Juul's days may be numbered. Only Juul and Altria know for sure how big a hit sales have taken, but it's certainly tough times ahead for the e-cigarette maker, irrespective of how the market for non-combustible smoking products evolves.

The answer, however, seems to be not so fast. a study published in the Pediatrics Journal of the American Medical Association this week found that the number of those between the ages of 15 and 34 who tried Juul increased to 14.5% last year from about 6% in 2018.

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