Juul Labs announced today that it recently initiated an enforcement campaign in South Florida to identify retailers trafficking counterfeit and other illicit vapor products. A press release states that the company obtained intelligence on upstream suppliers and took expansive enforcement action to address a growing black market.
“We need to be a responsible and trusted steward of vapor products,” said Adrian Punderson, vice president of Brand Protection at Juul Labs. “As such, it is our obligation to support enforcement against illicit and illegal products as we strive to reset the vapor category and earn a license to operate in society.”
Juul Labs’ Brand Protection Team conducted an investigation of 917 retailers in Miami-Dade County and Broward County [Florida], representing a major urban area that comprises various classes of retailers, including convenience stores and specialty vape shops, the release states. “These South Florida counties also are in close proximity to a U.S. port-of-entry and international-mailing facility — known entry points for the importation of illicit products.”
With the support of a third-party compliance auditor, Juul Labs conducted product surveillance and obtained samples from the retailers. The surveillance identified 30 retail outlets (3.3 percent of all surveilled outlets), as selling illicit counterfeit, diverted or unauthorized Juul-compatible products.
“Unauthorized Juul-compatible products are designed and marketed to be used with authentic Juul products without the company’s authorization. Counterfeit and compatible products violate intellectual-property rights and may raise additional health and safety risks given their untested ingredients and lack of manufacturing and quality controls and unsanitary conditions in which they are produced,” the release states. “Illicit vapor products actively undermine underage-prevention measures given their ease of access.”
Of the 30 outlets in South Florida selling illicit products, 6 outlets sold counterfeit Juul Pods, primarily offered in illegally marketed flavors, while 1 sold counterfeit Juul devices, 10 outlets sold diverted Juul Pods, primarily diverted from Canadian and Russian markets, and 13 outlets sold illegal and unauthorized compatible pods, with the majority of these compatible brands subject to International Trade Commission exclusion orders.
“Insights into these illicit activities will inform broad enforcement actions against these violating retailers, including cease-and-desist letters, training and education, and litigation as needed. But these actions are just a starting point: The Brand Protection Team will collect additional records and information from the violating retailers to identify upstream suppliers and sources of the illicit products,” the release states. “This will result in further enforcement action to disrupt the illicit trade of black market vapor products that are impacting local communities. Juul Labs will deliver these findings to law enforcement authorities and support their efforts to bring legal action.”