Juul may exit France, Spain and other European markets

It reportedly has nothing to do with COVID-19.

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Juul is preparing to leave five European countries within the year, according to BuzzFeed News. The e-cigarette maker is reportedly planning to pull out of Austria, Belgium, Portugal and Spain in July followed by France at the end of the year. Unlike all the shutdowns and layoffs reported over the past months, BuzzFeed’s source says the decision didn’t have anything to do with the coronavirus pandemic.

Austria’s, Belgium’s and Portugal’s markets are apparently too small in the first place. Juul enjoys relatively high sales in Spain and France compared to the rest of the continent, but not high enough to justify the costs of running a business there and the trouble of dealing with regulators. The European Union has stringent requirements when it comes to e-cigarette products, as the publication notes, requiring companies to stick to a nicotine limit of 20 milligrams per milliliter of fluid. Meanwhile, a single Juul pod can contain up to 59 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter in the US.

Juul’s exit in those markets means hundreds of employees will lose their jobs. According to an earlier report by The Wall Street Journal, the company will lay off around 800 to 950 employees as part of a restructuring plan. It’s just unclear if that number already includes the employees losing their jobs due to the European closures.

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