Trust might not be a word commonly associated with one of the most controversial companies in America.
Still, it’s a word used often by K.C. Crosthwaite, chief executive officer of embattled e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc.
Crosthwaite took the helm of Juul last September when the company was at the center of a public-health crisis that ignited fierce debate over whether e-cigarettes should exist at all. He said this week that he’s still pushing to repair Juul’s relationships with regulators, policy makers, public-health critics and society at large.
“I felt that the company and the category, quite frankly, needed a reset given the trajectory that we were on,” Crosthwaite said in a phone interview from his home in Richmond, Virginia. “There was clearly erosion of trust that existed for our company and for the category.”
Widely blamed for a teen vaping epidemic, Juul, which says it has never marketed to minors, is taking a more conciliatory approach in some of its public-facing actions. It has stopped advertising products in the U.S. and halted sales of sweet nicotine flavors that public-health advocates say can attract younger users. Juul also dropped an effort to reverse San Francisco’s ban on e-cigarette sales after spending $15.3 million on the campaign, according to a disclosure form.
Crosthwaite, 45, spent nearly his entire career at tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. before joining Juul last year. Altria’s former head of regulatory affairs, Joe Murillo, also now works at the e-cigarette maker. Their arrival followed Altria’s acquisition of a 35% Juul stake for $12.8 billion in 2018.
Angelica LaVito – Bloomberg – Julu 1, 2020.