Altria distances itself from e-cigarette maker amid scrutiny

Altria distances itself from e-cigarette maker amid scrutiny

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The maker of Marlboro cigarettes is distancing itself from Juul after losing billions on its investment in the vaping giant amid a federal vaping ban and a flurry of lawsuits.

Tobacco giant Altria Group is also leaving a path open for itself to get back into the vaping business on its own.

Altria said Thursday that it will no longer provide marketing and retail distribution services for Juul, which is facing a ban on most e-cigarette flavors in pre-filled pods, numerous lawsuits and government investigations. Previously, Altria helped promote Juul through the insertion of Juul coupons in Marlboro packs, for example. Now, it will only provide regulatory assistance as of March.

The shift comes amid criticism from anti-tobacco watchdogs who say that Juul lured young people into vaping and that Big Tobacco covets the burgeoning market for e-cigarettes.

Altria’s 35% stake in Juul has quickly deteriorated in value. The $12.8 billion investment, which occurred in December 2018, was worth $4.2 billion as of Dec. 31, 2019, Altria said Thursday. That included a $4.1 billion charge recorded in the fourth quarter due to Juul’s troubles.



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