JUUL CEO Kevin Burns announced early Wednesday morning that he is stepping down amid growing public scrutiny of the San Francisco-based e-cigarette maker following reports of vaping-related deaths and illnesses.
Burns will be replaced by K.C. Crosthwaite, an executive from tobacco giant and major JUUL investor Altria Group Inc., “effective immediately,” according to a statement posted to the company’s website.
News of Burns’ resignation comes after JUUL dropped $7 million on a pro-vaping ballot measure on San Francisco’s ballot on Monday, bringing the company’s spending to $11 million on Tuesday, the San Francisco Examiner reported previously.
JUUL’s ballot measure, Proposition C, seeks to overwrite a ban on vaping products passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in April.
The company also announced Wednesday that it is suspending “all broadcast, print and digital product advertising in the U.S.” and “refraining from lobbying the Administration on its draft guidance.”
The company said in its statement that it is committing to “fully support and comply with the final policy when effective.”
Over the course of Burns’ tenure, JUUL Labs” grew from a firm with fewer than 300 hundred employees operating in the U.S. to a company with thousands of employees and operations in 20 countries around the world,” according to the company’s website.
In the company’s statement, Burns said that he still believes that “the company’s mission of eliminating combustible cigarettes is vitally important.”