By Dennis Thompson
THURSDAY, Nov. 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Juul Labs will halt sales of its mint-flavored electronic cigarettes, the company announced Thursday.
The latest move follows new government research that showed Juul is the most popular brand among high schoolers who vape, and that the majority of young vapers like mint-flavored e-cigarettes the most.
"These results are unacceptable, and that is why we must reset the vapor category in the U.S.," Juul CEO K.C. Crosthwaite said in a company statement.
Having already halted sales of fruit- and dessert-flavored e-cigarettes, Juul will now only sell menthol and tobacco flavors. Mint and menthol flavors accounted for nearly 60% of the company's retail sales in the past year, according to Associated Press.
Juul has been besieged by legal troubles, including multiple investigations by Congress, federal agencies and several state attorneys general. The company is also being sued by adults and underage Juul users who claim they became addicted to nicotine through the company's products.
The Trump administration has also proposed banning nearly all e-cigarette flavors, but has not acted on that yet.
Juul has already stopped sales of its mango, creme, fruit and cucumber products, which account for 10% of its sales.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that the number of severe lung illnesses tied to vaping continues to climb: There are now 2,051 cases reported in 49 states and 39 deaths reported in 24 states.
Products containing the marijuana chemical THC seem to be a main driver behind those illnesses.
While THC is a main suspect in the CDC's investigation, a recent study suggested other chemicals might play a role.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic Arizona conducted an examination of 17 cases involving vaping-linked lung injury -- including lung biopsies. All of the patients examined had severe forms of the illness, and two had died.
"Based on what we have seen in our study, we suspect that most cases involve chemical contaminants, toxic byproducts or other noxious agents within vape liquids," said lead researcher Dr. Brandon Larsen. He's a surgical pathologist at the Mayo Clinic Arizona, in Scottsdale.
Those findings were published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine.
While THC does seem to figure prominently in many cases, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, has stressed that nicotine-containing vaping products without THC cannot be ruled out as a potential cause of harm. Because of that, the CDC recommendation for everyone to stop vaping stands.
What is clear is that the illnesses that are affecting vapers can be sudden and severe. Symptoms include cough, shortness of breath and chest pains. Some patients have had so much trouble breathing that they wind up on oxygen, and in extreme cases are placed on a mechanical ventilator.