Hello and happy hump day, readers.
Perhaps it was inevitable in the face of lawsuits, regulatory crackdowns, reports of horrifying lung illnesses, and a general sense of unease—but Kevin Burns, CEO of the privately-held firm Juul, is stepping down from his perch.
The Juul CEO’s sudden departure is just one chapter in this rapidly unfolding story. Here’s another excerpt: The tobacco giant Altria, which bought a 35% stake in Juul last year at a reported $40 billion valuation, is no longer in talks with Philip Morris International (PMI) to bring the companies together again.
Altria spun off PMI more than a decade ago while holding on to the U.S.-based Philip Morris unit (which controls major brands such as Marlboro in America). PMI has been focused on “heat not burn” tobacco products in international markets (these are not the same things as vapes). The divergent business strategies, and the public health outcry against vaping and e-cigs, almost certainly sunk any potential deal.
But what happens next? Will PMI’s bet on heat-not-burn devices actually pay dividends in the consumer market? And, more importantly, are these devices any better from a public health perspective than the vaping products facing blowback right now?
Read on for the day’s news.