As US cracks down on vaping, Juul raises $325m for global expansion

20 Aug 2019299 Views

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E-cigarette company Juul has recently launched in Ireland, the UK, Canada, South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia.

As US regulators begin to crack down on the American e-cigarette market, Juul has set its sights on international expansion.

The company, which was founded in May 2015, has recently launched in Ireland, the UK, Canada, South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Reuters reports that Juul raised $325m through an equity and debt offering to fund this expansion. The company previously raised $1.25bn in a 2018 funding round, and received $12.5bn from Marlboro maker Altria Group last December for its stake in the company.

The e-cigarette start-up came to Ireland in May 2019, targeting the 830,000 adult smokers in the country. On 1 August, it announced that its products would be stocked in Applegreen stores, as well as Circle K and Hale vaping shops.

Elsewhere, however, Juul has faced roadblocks in its roll-out. It was launched in Israel in May 2018 and remained on the market until August, when it was banned due to public health concerns.

The company also announced plans to launch in India in 2019. However, the Indian health ministry called for the device to be banned, citing concerns that it could derail the government’s anti-tobacco initiatives. A number of Indian states have already banned the use of e-cigarettes.

Vape ban

In 2018, Juul Labs was considered the sixth-most valuable US start-up, behind the likes of Uber and Airbnb. The company has seen massive growth in the US, accounting for 70pc of the American e-cigarette retail market in 2018.

However, the popularity of the brand among young people has also caused concern, with the US Surgeon General calling vaping an “epidemic”. San Francisco, which is the home of Juul, became the first US city to vote to ban e-cigarettes in June.

On the same day the ban was announced, Juul announced that it had bought a 29-storey skyscraper to accommodate its “rapidly growing team”. Earlier this month, Forbes reported that Juul has spent $3m battling the San Francisco vape ban.

While scientists do not yet understand the long-term effects of e-cigarette use, studies have found that some vape flavours can greatly increase risk of heart disease.

The FDA is also investigating almost 130 reports of seizures in e-cigarette users over the last decade, though the organisation has yet to establish a clear link between vaping and seizures.

Juul is currently involved in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a 19-year-old who has seen his asthma symptoms worsen since he began using Juul’s device at the age of 16.

Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com