K.C. Crosthwaite has joined Juul Labs as CEO, replacing Kevin Burns. The move comes as Juul faces fierce criticism in the U.S. for its marketing practices.
Crosthwaite brings more than two decades of global operational, management, stakeholder and regulatory engagement experience. As chief growth officer at Altria Group, which owns a 35-percent stake in Juul, Crosthwaite oversaw the company’s expansion into smoking alternatives and played a key role in the commercial and regulatory efforts related to the U.S. launch of Altria’s heat-not-burn device, IQOS.
Hyunseob Kim, professor of finance in the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University called Crosthwaite “a natural pick” for Juul, given his experience with federal regulators.
Concurrent with the leadership change, Juul Labs announced it would suspend all broadcast, print and digital product advertising in the U.S. and refrain from lobbying the administration on its draft guidance and committing to fully support and comply with the final policy when effective
“I have long believed in a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose alternative products like Juul,” said Crosthwaite. “That has been this company’s mission since it was founded, and it has taken great strides in that direction. Unfortunately, today that future is at risk due to unacceptable levels of youth usage and eroding public confidence in our industry.
“Against that backdrop, we must strive to work with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders, and earn the trust of the societies in which we operate. That includes inviting an open dialogue, listening to others and being responsive to their concerns.”
Juul critics were unimpressed. “This announcement strips away any doubt about Juul,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “It is Big Tobacco.”